If Nintendo does this with their next console, I’ll seriously consider skipping it.
How to convince me not to buy the next Nintendo console
It will be a real shame if the next Nintendo console does away with the portability, is not competitively priced, or lacks backward compatibility.
I’ll talk through my thinking behind these factors below, plus a few more things that would make me hesitate before buying Nintendo’s next system.
Lose the portability
The quickest way to ensure I don’t bother buying the next Nintendo console is to release something that is not portable: Portability is one of the key factors for explaining why the Switch has sold so well.
Overall, I play my Switch more in docked mode than in handheld mode. However, some of my favorite gaming experiences of all time (let alone just on the Switch) have taken place while curled up on the sofa playing in handheld mode with a good pair of earphones.
That’s before you even mention the fact the Switch is an absolute Godsend on a long journey. I’m clearly not the only one that thinks this, either: I remember being on a flight not so long ago where the entire row of six seats (including me) was occupied by passengers playing their Switches.
The Switch First Look trailer wasn’t that far off the mark, then:
Giving gamers an equally high-quality experience in docked mode as in handheld mode is one of the main reasons the Switch has sold so well. It’s unique in that respect. (Yeah, Steam Deck, I know. That’s a whole other level of product, though).
Nintendo is well known for its stubborn pricing strategy and reluctance to sell products at a loss even if doing so might incentivize more purchases in the long term. That said, it still managed to find a market sweet spot with the Switch, which cost $299 at release.
To put that in perspective, the PS4 launched at $399, the Xbox One launched at $499, and, more recently, the PS5 and Xbox Series X released at $399 and $499 respectively.
The only home console that has competed on price with the Nintendo Switch for the last decade is the Xbox Series S.
That launch price was, of course, more than fair given the Switch’s hardware limitations compared to all the other consoles mentioned. However, another huge part of the Switch’s appeal is its relative affordability.
If the next Nintendo console is significantly more pricey, it will have to offer truly outstanding specs if I am to dive in on launch day.
No backward compatibility
Yeah, the Metroid Prime Remastered drop and the new Tears of the Kingdom trailer were the talks of the town after the Nintendo Direct showcase in February 2023.
What I was most excited to see, though, was the new Game Boy and Game Boy Advance collections added to Nintendo Switch online at no extra cost to subscribers.
Yes, you can now play more than 250 games from these two era-defining handhelds, the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, and SEGA Mega Drive games (they are all playable offline, too).
Nostalgia is one of the 24 Fl Oz Mega Monster cans that fuels the video games industry and it’s simply beyond cool to be able to play so much of Nintendo’s – and Sega’s – back catalog on the Switch. (Note to Nintendo: Make the 3DS playable on Switch and I’ll die a happy gamer.)
It’s not just the old classics that I hope are accessible on the next Nintendo console, though. It’s vitally important that Nintendo Switch game cards are playable on any new hardware, whatever form that takes.
I don’t want to live in a future where I have to rebuy my physical Switch games just to play them on updated hardware, only for Nintendo to then limit access to them when it ends eventually support for the Switch eShop as it has now done for the 3DS.
The Nintendo Switch is somewhat lacking when it comes to internal memory capacity.
The approximately 25GB of useable storage is enough to fit many of the top-rated Switch games of all time which come in at around 3GB on average, but it’s clearly not sufficient for players who want more than a couple of the Switch’s bigger games in their digital library.
Yes, I know that I could easily buy an SD card for Switch to expand the storage and that running games from the SD card don’t affect performance, but the point is that I really shouldn’t have to do that, should I?
The OLED Switch model has double the memory at 64GB which is a step in the right direction but I think any new console without at least 128GB of onboard storage will be a disappointment.
As much as the incredible choice of small-size Switch games helps to alleviate my Switch memory complaints, I don’t want to be so limited in Nintendo’s next gen.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are expensive, so it’s been frustrating for the large slice of the Switch ownership pie that has experienced Joy-Con drift at some point in the last six years.
While it was enough to get Nintendo out of a class-action lawsuit, hiding behind the terms of its End User License Agreement (you know, the small print that we all scroll quickly past and accept without reading) does not give it an excuse to pump out fundamentally faulty hardware to the paying public.
An innovative console design like the Switch was probably always going to come with issues. Apart from the Joy-Cons, though, I think it is fairly robust and the blue screen of death is rarely caused by careful everyday use.
If I could give the Nintendo design team one piece of advice, it would be to not read my article on Nintendo Switch concept designs. Taking inspiration from any of those abominations would not end well.
Everything but gameplay
Now that the Nintendo Switch is entering its twilight years, the hardware limitations are starting to show themselves a little in resource-intensive new releases. Every Xenlobade Chronicles 3 reviewer seemed to get hung up on it, for example.
Of course, if those limitations significantly inhibit gameplay then it is a problem. But the Switch was never about high performance, and that’s a big part of its charm.
Games that were made for the Switch innovate and impress in ways other than the ray tracing and ridiculous draw depth. There are many great games on games on Switch with story and soul rather than sick graphics because the console is uniquely suited to this.
An award-winning experience can be created on limited hardware – as demonstrated by many of the best indie games on Switch – there’s no reason for Nintendo’s next console to prioritize performance over gameplay.
The Switch tax
Many ports to the Switch seem to jump up in price compared to the equivalent releases on other platforms. You might have noticed, for example, that Skryim is expensive on Switch compared to Steam.
There are obviously costs associated with porting games and the extra development that is sometimes required, but the price hike for playing ports on Switch still seems steep.
I’m pretty sure that the Switch tax is not going away any time soon and that there’ll be an equivalent Nintendo next console tax, too, but it’s annoying and I really hope they find a way to offer these sorts of titles at a lower price point in the future.