Nintendo could soon launch two new Switch consoles. The Japanese gaming giant has reportedly begun production on a low-cost, primarily handheld version of the device and a more premium variant with upgraded specs. And gamers may have just received an early glimpse at what the budget-friendly model could look like.
Multiple alleged renders of the so-called Nintendo Switch “Lite” appeared online Monday. They were listed on Chinese tech accessory vendor Honson’s web store. The images depict a more compact Switch, with non-detachable Joy-Con controllers, that looks extremely similar to Sony’s 2004 handheld console, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). While these mockups likely aren’t the finalized version of the upcoming gaming system, they highlight how Nintendo could take the Switch to new heights by doing what the PSP did: giving gamers console-quality features that fit in their pocket.
The PSP was the most powerful handset on the market when it was released. It gave gamers on-the-go access to titles that were once only playable in their living rooms, and its sales were evidence of its appeal. The Guinness Book of World Records ranked it as the tenth best-selling console of all-time with 80.82 million units sold as of December 2018.
Nintendo could take a page out of Sony’s playbook, capitalize on the Switch’s current popularity, and pull from its decades of handheld designing experience to make the Switch Lite a bonafide hit. It just needs to size down the device to comfortably fit into gamers’ jeans, and the renders seem to show that the company has done just that.
The original Switch has sold more than 34 million units globally as of March 31, and tech market research firm Strategy Analytics predicts the Switch will marginally outsell Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoles in 2019. But the introduction of the Switch Lite could let Nintendo completely dunk on Sony, especially if the size, price, and release date are right.
New Nintendo Switch: Price
The Switch Lite is expected to cost anywhere from $50 to $100 less than the original console’s $300 price tag. Rhys Elliott — a content marketing manager at the gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo — told Inverse that even with a small discount the upcoming console would still appeal to gamers.
“If the new model were priced at $249.99, it would remain competitive in the market,” he said. “After all, demand for the Switch is still incredibly high, and its value proposition of console-quality portable gaming still appeals to consumers.”
These predictions are identical to what Sony did when it launched the PSP, four years after the PS2. The PSP retailed for $250 at launch, while the PS2 was released at $300.
Plus, Nintendo could even sweeten the deal by unveiling the Switch Lite alongside a roster of new games.
New Nintendo Switch: Release Date and New Games
The Switch Lite could launch as early as this fall, according to a translated version of an April 18 report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei. The outlet’s leak record is a bit spotty, but if it’s accurate, then Nintendo’s new console could launch alongside some of the company’s most buzzed-about titles of the year: Pokèmon Sword and Shield, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
All four of those games are scheduled to launch in the fall of 2019, and all of them are refreshes of iconic franchises, especially Link’s Awakening. The action-adventure game is a remastered version of the 1993 title that launched on the Game Boy. The announcement of a new Switch, Link’s Awakening, and perhaps bundle discounts, could all tap into the handheld nostalgia of millions of Nintendo fans around the world.
Once again, Sony did the same thing with the PSP in the mid-2000s by getting classic titles, like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City, Daxter, and Burnout Legends on the handheld console. Letting gamers play their favorite console titles on their morning commute or at the doctor’s office has been a historically winning strategy, and Nintendo might even take it to the next level.
New Nintendo Switch: TV Compatibility
Unlike the PSP, the Switch Lite is also expected to come with TV casting capabilities. Users will either be able to wirelessly beam their games on their TVs or use a dongle to connect the handheld, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I think even a portable-only device would have some connection to the TV, either an HDMI port or some wireless mirroring capability,” he said. “There are other ways to design products for portability, [for example] through different form factors or internal components. I would expect any new media devices to have a tie-in with the TV.”
The Honson renders don’t show any evidence of this anticipated feature. But with many months before the Switch Lite could launch, there’s a chance that it might look different.
The only crucial note Nintendo needs to hit is to ensure it can be easily tucked into a pocket, to maximize its portability and recreate the PSP’s magic.