Nintendo recently announced that they will be releasing the Nintendo Switch OLED model, a new version of the Switch we all know and love. This new hardware revision will include a larger screen, an ethernet port, 64 gigabits of storage, and improved audio performance. The launch date for this new OLED Switch is set for October 8th which is also the release date for Metroid: Dread. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that there will be a Metroid-themed model, but that also doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility.
The OLED model will be priced at $350, evidence that Nintendo is expecting high demand: they either expect a lot of people to upgrade from a previous Switch or acquire their first model altogether. This projection indicates that the prices for previous models are not likely to decrease until next year at the earliest, whenever sales start to slow down.
What inspired this model was likely Nintendo’s observation that people primarily enjoyed the handheld nature of the Switch, even over its TV capabilities. In order to improve on the handheld experience, the system is being treated similarly to the old PSP and PS Vita situation from years ago. The display is designed to replicate what can be seen on a TV, and the storage has been improved for people who prefer the handheld mode over plugging into a TV. From 2017, Nintendo’s collected data from Nintendo accounts have shown that 30% of account users play with the portable mode for about 80% of their play time.
This improvement on the previous Switch will also be a potential means of drawing in Xbox and PlayStation fans that are otherwise lacking a portable experience. Since it’s not always convenient or possible to play a game that requires a TV, capitalizing on their handheld niche gives Nintendo a way to appeal to a very wide audience: even those that already own other platforms. While Nintendo has touched on console experiences from time to time, there’s no denying that their greatest success has always been in handheld platforms. Everyone loved the GameBoy and the DS. The Wii was a bit more controversial.
Considering Nintendo’s history, it seems likely that even this new OLED model Switch will not be the last version of the platform we get. The GameBoy, for example, had seven versions of itself before finally getting replaced by the DS. Granted, not all of those versions were major upgrades, but there were at least four major entries: the original GameBoy, the Color, the Advance, and the SP. The Nintendo DS also went through a number of major upgrades and multiple versions.
Considering the phenomenal success of the Switch and the fact that the console itself is relatively young as far as gaming consoles go, there’s no reason to assume that the OLED will be the last version to ever grace the market. Of course, we’re not trying to imply that future upgrades to the Switch are guaranteed, but with plenty of upgrades to make and the mostly cornered market on handheld consoles, Nintendo has little reason to worry about making an entirely new console any time soon.