When asked about the length of the Nintendo Switch’s life cycle when speaking to Time in an interview last week Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s General Manager of their Software Planning & Development Division said that they might “switch it up” with the Switch. Before expanding,
Certainly, we’ve designed Nintendo Switch in a way that it can be used by consumers in the way that best suits them. I think we may see that people who have bought a Nintendo home console in the past traditionally, they may treat Switch like a home console and buy it and use it for a long period of time.
Whereas people who have been traditionally Nintendo handheld gamers, they may buy Nintendo Switch and then for example, if a new version were to come out later, then maybe they would decide to upgrade to that. Or, for example, because you can take the Joy-Con off the system, then I guess that leaves open the possibility of something else that might get attached. There’s obviously a lot of different developments that we could look at from that perspective as well.
Although not explicitly saying anything, the Deputy GM of their Planning department is insinuating something. Nintendo has never been one to go for the latest and greatest tech, and with this newest announcement it was clear that they wanted to get it out of the door with the current generation chip it rather than wait for something like a customized Tegra X1, projected to come out within the next quarter. With what some people may see as the Nintendo Switch’s “modularity,” it is not beyond imagination that the screen itself could be replaced with one containing a more powerful chipset. Or, although it would tie them down as a home console, they could turn their dock into an eGPU with a desktop sized graphics card powerful enough to push their tech up to modern gaming standards.
For a company that holds things so close to the vest, I was astonished that someone in such a high position would ‘leak’ something of this magnitude. It might not seem like a big deal initially, but once you consider that companies usually stay silent following a console release and don’t utter a word about a “slim” variant until at least a year and a half has passed – this interview seems groundbreaking.
This announcement is comparable to Sony telling their customers, before they release the Playstation 5, that they’re going to shrink it down 16 months later and sell it to them again for $100 less. Yes, this is a beneficial snafu for the consumer, and people knowledgeable about its project cycle might have seen it coming even without this remark, but with so many seemingly harmless questions customers want to be answered, why decide to respond to this one? What was gained out of revealing potential development plans; conceivably putting the sales of its initial release at risk? Now anyone on the fence about purchasing it on release date might roll the dice and wait – albeit for a day that might never come – for this “upgraded version.” potentially costing Nintendo in the long run.