Enter The Switch Lite
The Switch has proved to be a phenomenal success globally. Nintendo’s console has managed to capture the imagination in the same way that the Wii did several years ago and has already managed to sell 35 million units worldwide in its short life. While it may not reach the heights that the PS4 has, it’s certainly set to topple the XBox One and end up snatching second place in the current console generation. It hasn’t been without it’s own problems. Some games have shipped without cartridges and have been downloads only, while others have only had part of the game on the cartridge leaving players to download the rest of the game to keep production costs down of the expensive to make game cards.
Equally, the controllers have gained a reputation for being extremely fragile with countless Switch owners reporting failures, breakages and issues with the analogue sticks. At £40 each or £70 per pair, it makes gaming on the console an expensive prospect, although a somewhat lucrative one for Nintendo.
The new mode, the Switch Lite, is taking away the hardware issue by producing a Vita-esque portable that is set to be significantly more durable and more affordable for those who predominantly use the Switch on the go. But releasing the Switch Lite is a gamble for Nintendo in many ways. Making the unit portable has removed the key feature that made the console unique in the first place. It is now a switch-less Switch. The fact that it is not fully compatible with all existing titles is also potentially going to be off-putting for some. There are some Switch games that were dependent on the console’s motion sensors or were inherently reliant on multiplayer modes for their success and losing these could be a blow.
Games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, both of which are amongst the Switch’s biggest sellers to-date (with each moving 16.6m and 13.8m respectively) shine as multiplayer couch games. While much of the Switch’s library will still run, will the loss of some games harm the machine’s appeal? Possibly not. The difference here will be the promotion of the console. It’s been made clear from the start that the Lite has advantages over the Switch in handheld mode and this is where it needs to focus.
It’s being pitched as a successor to the 3DS which has already come to the natural end of its lifespan. Games for the 3DS always stated that they were compatible with both the 3DS and 2DS and this is what is planned with the Switch. As long as games are clearly marked from the beginning, that will remove the ambiguity that plagued the PlayStation TV. With the microconsole it was left to fan sites to update gamers on whether games were compatible so if Nintendo can ensure that it’s clear from the start there should be an ample library for Switch Lite owners to choose from.
End Of The Road For The Vita?
The hardware under the hood for the Switch Lite is more powerful than the PS Vita – understandable considering the age difference between the two. Whether PS Vita owners will now migrate to the Switch completely is uncertain but the deciding factor for many will be the games. For some, Nintendo titles just don’t appeal and those AAA games that are available on more that one system are likely to be played on a PS4 or XBox One instead. So to win Vita owners over it will be down to the more specialist and indie games that we currently enjoy. Many of these have been cancelled of late in favour of Switch ports.
That doesn’t make our entire game collections obsolete overnight though. With a huge library at our disposal and plenty of Vita exclusives or games that won’t appear on the Switch, there’s still no reason for us to sell our Vita’s any time soon. For those who do want to move over, you can have many years of happy gaming on Sony’s handheld while still embracing everything that Nintendo has to offer. If my own gaming collection is anything to go by, with over 50 machines dating back to the 1970s, diversity can make for some wonderful gaming experiences.
The Vita may not be dead quite yet, but if Nintendo can do everything right, the release of the Switch Lite may mark the beginning of the end…