Switch it up.
While the PS4 and Xbox One may be nearing the end of their life cycles, the Nintendo Switch is still very much just getting started. Nintendo's hybrid console burst onto the market two years ago and has been riding a wave of momentum ever since. As of March 31, the system has sold more than 34 million units worldwide, already overtaking the Nintendo 64's lifetime sales and putting it on pace with those of the company's most successful home console, the Wii.
Despite the system's impressive sales, reports have begun to circulate that Nintendo is already working on new iterations of the Switch that will supposedly launch later this year. Nintendo, for its part, has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors, so whether such models exist is still conjecture at this point. That said, Nintendo has a long history of refreshing its consoles every few years, particularly its handhelds, and there's enough evidence to suggest the company will take the same approach with the Switch. With that in mind, let's take a look at everything we know so far about these rumored new Switch models.
How Many New Switch Models Are Coming?
This past March, the Wall Street Journal reported that two new Nintendo Switch models would be released in 2019: a less expensive iteration with pared down features, and an "enhanced" version targeted at "avid" gamers. The following month, Japanese newspaper Nikkei published its own report about a lower-cost Switch, saying that a less expensive version of the system is coming this fall. Nikkei's story didn't touch on the "enhanced" Switch model mentioned in the Wall Street Journal's report, but it did claim that development on a "next-generation" version of the system would begin following the less expensive model.
Lending further weight to the rumor, Bloomberg also published a report in April claiming that a cheaper Switch would be released this year. According to the publication, the system will launch as soon as the end of June. However, Bloomberg's report noted that the more powerful Switch model mentioned by the Wall Street Journal was "not in the works;" rather, the current Switch would get some kind of "modest upgrade" this year, although what that entails was not specified. While that likely rules out the possibility of an "enhanced" version of the system being released any time soon, there seems to be enough evidence that a cheaper model is on the way sometime this year.
What Has Nintendo Said About The New Switch?
Nintendo typically has a policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation, but the company has made general statements in response to the reports about potential new Switch models. During an earnings call last month, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said, "As a general rule, we're always working on new hardware and we will announce it when we are able to sell it." While not an outright denial, Furukawa's response is carefully worded and doesn't rule out the possibility that a new iteration of the Switch could be coming this year.
Will The New Switch Be At E3 2019?
While new game consoles are traditionally unveiled at E3, it doesn't appear that will be the case with the rumored new Switch. Despite not outright denying the existence of a cheaper model, Nintendo president Furukawa categorically dispelled rumors that a new system would be revealed at the annual trade show, saying the company has "no plans to announce [new hardware] at this year's E3 in June." Still, while Furukawa may have put the breaks on an E3 reveal, his comments leave open the possibility that Nintendo could announce a Switch revision sometime before or after the expo.
How Will The New Switch Be Different?
While nothing has been confirmed yet, the Wall Street Journal reports the new, less expensive Switch model would be positioned as a "cheaper option for casual gamers." In order to cut costs, Nintendo would reportedly remove certain features, such as controller vibration. Nikkei claims the cheaper Switch is being "designed for portable use," although the system would still be compatible with a dock and playable on a television.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo is viewing the new Switch as a "successor" to its 3DS line, which the company has in recent years marketed as a budget-priced handheld aimed at children. This would seem to further support Nikkei's claim that the system is being designed primarily for handheld play. The reported timing of the system's release would make sense as well, as Nintendo has a number of Switch games on the way this year that will assuredly be big hits among children, including Pokemon Sword and Shield and a new Animal Crossing.