OK. You’ve bought your Nintendo Switch. You’ve loved it, laughed with it, almost thrown it across the room in anger. You’ve played it on your TV, you’ve taken it to your Nan’s house, dropped it on the floor in the garden and even played Tetris 99 on the toilet. So, the question arises:
Do you need a Nintendo Switch Lite if you already own a Nintendo Switch?
It’s nothing new for Nintendo to give their consoles a spit polish every few years, and it’s not as if the Nintendo Switch itself is perfect, to begin with. I mean, who hasn’t nearly snapped off the kickstand? You’re also talking to someone who’s owned 4 Nintendo 3DS consoles in their time. The likely hood of me giddily throwing more money at Nintendo is extremely high. But need? Really need? That’s a different question entirely. So, let’s answer it.
Not long after the Nintendo Switch was launched, Nintendo issued an easy to digest graph showing that the Switch was pretty down the middle when it comes to how people play it, the largest percentage of which being people enjoying it in both modes. So it’s not as if the unique selling point of the Nintendo Switch we all know and love is just a gimmick. People really do play Anytime, Anywhere™.
Things could have changed slightly since then, of course. But the 30% of people who only play handheld mode are hardly marching through the streets, demanding the filthy TV mode to be ripped out of the console. Likewise, people who have almost forgotten you can take the thing out of the dock at all are unlikely to have their eyes opened at the sight of the Nintendo Switch Lite. They will still have their trusty Switch placed firmly next to the TV. Dust an all.
So who is the Nintendo Switch Lite actually for? What is Nintendo thinking by releasing a console that takes the best and most unique feature out of it? How can they call it a “Switch” at all?
Well, allow me to cast your mind back a few years…
It was 2006. It feels like a million years ago.
Nintendo has just un-uglied their original DS console (yes, I’ll die on this hill) and relaunched it with a crisper design and cheaper price-point. Least to say, the world went crazy for it. The lion’s share of Nintendo DS consoles sold have the word ‘Lite’ slapped on the end of them. For Nintendo, it printed money.
For so many people, the Nintendo DS Lite was the DS. Most are astonished to learn that the original existed at all. The same is nearly true for the Nintendo 3DS also, with Nintendo refreshing the design several times to appeal to different audiences. Again, you won’t find many people pulling the originally designed console out of the bags like they do the revisited versions.
The Nintendo DS Lite made a great gift for anyone and everyone. The diverse line up of games and gaming styles meant that no-one was excluded from having a good time with a ‘Big N’ machine. Nintendo’s adoption of the “Blue Ocean” strategy was a huge success for the company at the time, ensuring they were reaching out to a market that hadn’t previously been available through the hugely successful Nintendo DS and Wii consoles. They brought in new gamers, young and old and it was arguably the most successful period in the company’s history.
A lot changed.
As successful as Nintendo’s strategy was, it was built on the rocky foundations of fad and craze. Once the dust had settled and the masses had moved on, Nintendo found itself with a gaping hole it found hard to fill. Removing the Wii out of the equation, it reveals the downward trend that Nintendo’s home consoles were going through each passing decade. Ever since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo hadn’t managed to capture the same lion’s share they once enjoyed. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was, of course, a huge success; the Nintendo 64 is looked back with much fondness amongst gamers, as is the Nintendo Gamecube. But all were slipping further and further down the sales order, losing ground to the likes of SEGA, Sony and Microsoft.
The follow up to the hugely successful Wii, the Wii U is largely seen as a misstep by the company. Although it had a solid enough core of Nintendo die-hards flying its flag, the poor marketing, questionable gimmicks, trickle of games and stalled momentum of sales all spelt out a premature end for the console. We loved it, but the masses simply weren’t interested. Worst still, many people to this day still aren’t quite sure what the Wii U exactly was, figuring it’s some kind of add-on device for the original Wii.
Despite this. the company still saw success in the Nintendo 3DS which today has sold more than 75 million units, making it their 5th best selling console to date. This little portable console that had a rocky start, again, due to marketing confusion and a questionable gimmick. But it, unlike the Wii U, was able to claw back it’s stalled momentum through a hefty price cut and a series of big gaming releases. The 3D feature was decent enough, but many people found themselves not using the feature at all, causing Nintendo to add to the little family of consoles with the Nintendo 2DS in 2013.
Then things changed once again. Or switched up, if you like.
Way back in the distant 2016, Nintendo dropped a teaser video for a brand new console. This console could play on a TV and be taken anywhere portable mode. Least to say, our ears pricked up…
The video was absolutely spot-on with its marketing. Everyone understood exactly what the Nintendo Switch was and what it could do. There was no question what Nintendo was trying to achieve, but people were still dubious about its potential.
Nintendo managed to gain an amazing amount of momentum from day one, for the most part, thanks to several stellar releases with the likes of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and a deluxe version of the Wii U game, Mario Kart 8.
Soon, developers that had long abandoned them were flocking back to take a piece of the Switch pie. Big hitters like Minecraft and Fortnite made an appearance. Indie smash hits like Stardew Valley and Rocket League are rarely out of the eShop charts. Nintendo’s future releases, such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Luigi’s Mansion 3 are causing a buzz around the internet quite unlike anything we’re used to from outside of the Mario and Zelda fandoms.
Heck, even games like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt are coming to the system. It seems the Big N is back in business once again.
So, Nintendo has just announced the Nintendo Switch Lite. Now it’s clearer to see why a portable-only version makes sense. They’ve been here before. Nintendo’s portable machines have always been arguably more important to the company than its home consoles. All this is without even mentioning the phenomenon that was the Game Boy and Game Boy Advanced.
It’s easy to see people buying the Lite as a secondary console, a present for loved ones who are “Hard to buy presents for” and something to keep the kids more substantially occupied than a free mobile game. The cheaper price point will make a dead cert to be seen underneath Christmas trees this holiday season. It will print money for Nintendo, I’m sure.
Now that’s sorted, us hardcore gamers just need to wait for a ‘Pro’ version coming in 2020. 365 days of battery life and a 16K screen sounds good to me.
Posted by: Michael
Michael loves his consoles, especially his Nintendo Switch! He enjoys spending the weekend relaxing and playing the newest video games to let off some steam, he's basically a pro.
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