Everywhere I go, everytime there’s a Switch article, there’s always at least one person who claims that Nintendo will make a new, dedicated handheld to replace the 3DS in no less than 4 years because the 3DS is selling strong and also because the Switch is marketed as a home console with a handheld gimmick. And I laugh to myself every time. This article is a response to that because I feel like I have to spell it out.
Nintendo is in a bit of a situation. The Wii U was a failure. The 3DS is not selling quite as fast as the DS did, though it has outperformed the stronger PlayStation Vita which is dead in the water and sold significantly more than the Wii U. And the handheld gaming space has far more competition now more than ever with the advent of smartphone and tablet gaming. Why buy a dedicated gaming handheld when you can buy a device that both has games and can do a whole bunch of other essential day to day tasks? Heck, newer smartphones can outperform the 3DS:
Dedicated gaming handhelds no longer have a place in the market because everything they can do can be done by a smartphone. It’s sad to say, but it’s true. And the Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s answer. A more powerful home console with the ability to be taken on the go like their previous handheld devices. It was created by merging their home console and handheld development divisions, consolidating all their brain power and first party titles under one roof rather than two. Nintendo has claimed that the NX/Switch is not the successor to either, but a third pillar. However, they’ve done this same song and dance before. When the Nintendo DS was unveiled Nintendo referred to it as the third pillar. It was a companion device to the GBA and GameCube. But we see how quickly that changed. The DS was really the successor to the GBA. It was a more powerful gaming handheld.
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, the first Pokemon games for the DS, dropped the GBA. The previous game, Emerald, didn’t have a DS version. Years later, Nintendo unveils the 3DS. In 2013, Pokemon X and Y hit the market, 3DS exclusive. The previous games, Black 2 and White 2, didn’t have 3DS versions. And now, for months we’ve had rumors of a Pokemon game for Switch. Not just any old Pokemon game mind you, but a mainline game, which is normally exclusive to handhelds because of the The Pokemon Company’s belief that Pokemon is meant to be played on the go. They did express interest in the Switch. And the latest rumor to make the rounds, just today actually, is that the Switch Pokemon game is none other than the combined version of Pokemon Sun and Moon, tentatively titled Pokemon Stars(Eclipse would make sense as a final name). According to the rumor, it’s not a port, but a built from the ground up Switch title that uses higher quality assets than that of Sun and Moon, though it retains the art style(Probably for continuity. The next Switch exclusive title will likely overhaul everything.). If you needed further proof that the Switch was more than a home console, there it is. And there are no rumblings of a 3DS version of Stars, and you would think that if there was, the rumors would make it a point to mention. But the only word we have is that it’s a Switch title. The trend has already been established. Pokemon will drop the 3DS in favor of the Switch, and many people will flock to the Switch to get their Pokemon fix. And you can be certain that games like Fire Emblem and Ace Attorney won’t be far behind.
The days of the 3DS are numbered. I have a 3DS, I love my 3DS, I got it for Pokemon X, but I can tell when its life is ending. The Switch kills two birds with one stone and having all their exclusives on one system ensures that Nintendo will have a steady stream of first party AAA titles to entice people to buy their new system. And next to Mario and Zelda, Pokemon is their other big system seller. Whether you like it or not, Nintendo will drag 3DS owners kicking and screaming into the next generation with Nintendo Switch.
Oh, and one last thing:
The Nintendo Switch runs on NVIDIA’s Tegra chip, a newer custom chip that uses the Pascal architecture and it’s safe to say that the Switch is also the spiritual successor to the NVIDIA Shield tablet. A Tegra chip would never power a regular home console. It’s intended for handheld usage which is why it is being used here. NVIDIA expects a very long lasting relationship with Nintendo, and it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine what that means: Every Nintendo console after the Switch will feature the same core concept of home console gaming on the go. What point is there in releasing a dedicated handheld device when Nintendo already has a device that can be played on the go or even on your TV should you choose to do so? It would cannibalize sales and that isn’t what Nintendo wants.