Why Switch Shouldn’t Be Nintendo’s Mobile Strategy

Credit to Max Steenbergen Via Dribbble

There’s been a lot of fuss in the Nintendo community lately surrounding Nintendo’s decision to continue supporting the 3DS. After about a month with the Switch I decided to revisit the 3DS. And boy am I glad that I did. Lots of fans want Nintendo to abandon the 3DS and focus solely on the Switch. I understand that argument at face level, it’s the hot new device that everyone wants to game on. It’s more powerful, more flexible, and definitely has better software. So why would Nintendo want to keep supporting the 3DS? Well first off, from a business perspective, it means they are going to make more money by offering a lower cost device that’s more portable. The second is that the Switch isn’t there in terms of being a de facto portable console. It has poor on-the-go battery life, doesn’t fit into a pocket, and at this point still doesn’t have a very big library of games. That’s why Nintendo introduced the 2DS XL. It’s got a new design that fits in the language of the Switch but still runs the same ginormous back catalog of games for the DS, 3DS, and new 3DS. Not to mention the fact that it has a massive library of virtual console titles hidden away in the eShop, something that the Switch is desperately lacking. The experience is totally different between the Switch and the 3DS. When I play Breathe of the Wild, I want to play it on my television and really get immersed, not when I’m on the train. Instead, when I’m on-th-go I want to play smaller titles like a pokémon game or a mario sidescroller. I want a device that fits into my pocket and is super light too. The new 2DS XL fulfills all of these things. The Switch just isn’t quite there yet. There’s an argument to be made for a “Switch mini” but games designed for the Switch would present a terrible user experience on a display any smaller than that of the current Switch. Buttons would be too small to press, sometimes too small to even see. I think that eventually we will get to a point where the Switch has battery life that can match a 3DS, one that’s light enough and thin enough to feel more portable. But Nintendo shouldn’t ever abandon their 20+ year old strategy of offering both home and portable consoles. Let me just run down a few of the past generations of Nintendo consoles:

  • Gameboy + NES / SNES
  • Gameboy Color + N64
  • Gameboy Advance + Gamecube
  • Nintendo DS / DSi + Wii
  • Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
  • Nintendo ??? / Switch

Right now the logical conclusion to make is that Nintendo will continue the 3DS line with the Switch for at least another year. But I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to get a new Nintendo handheld in at most two years. Once the Switch is fully matured, Nintendo can switch (like that?) its focus to a new handheld to replace the 3DS. The difference is that the Wii U was hated and an utter embarrassing failure. It was more dire for them to come out with a revolutionary home console. People still love the 3DS, so it’s much less urgent. If anyone from Nintendo happens to somehow stumble across this article, here’s what I think you should do…

The successor to the 3DS should take a look at its ancestors for inspiration. The Gameboy Advance is perhaps the most similar to the Switch and that’s why I think it makes sense to return to a single display but this time a high resolution touch one. The device would be a very similar form factor to the Gameboy Advance and could really take a beating. My Gameboy Advance still works and plays just like it did ten or fifteen years ago. Nintendo should make the next Gameboy. It needs to have the same fit and finish of the Switch with the simple and sturdy design of the new 2DS XL. It of course should have a virtual console with Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance games too. Heck, it could even be called the Gameboy. Rebooting such a popular franchise could bring huge profits to Nintendo and tons of nostolgia to fans. Couple that with an interface as simple and beautiful as the Switch’s and you’ve got a hit on your hands. Keep the price below $200 and you’re golden.

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