Size matters. Which is why it may be better to wait for when Nintendo eventually announces the Switch with a bigger screen… among other improvements.
Nintendo definitely has made a lasting impression with the Switch, their latest gaming console, and for good reason. Besides us adults, the idea of an all-in-one home and portable console is an intriguing concept for teenagers too. In that regard, consoles like the Switch prove to be perfect gifts for a 15 year old boy. This portable gaming console also offers plenty of learning benefits with games like Human Resource Machine, Nintendo Labo, etc. The way that gamers will interface with the system using the multiple Joy-Con configurations and touch screen is pretty revolutionary. So, I can see why there are many gamers and fanboys out there who are willing to shell out the $299 price point when the system drops in a couple of months.
Me? I’m interested but not enough to get the Switch on Day 1. In fact, I’m not even sure I want to get it the way it is right now. I do think the console is good but it’s not the best version of itself. And it all comes down to size. The Nintendo Switch is just a tad too small which is actually hobbling its true potential. That all could be fixed when Nintendo eventually reveals the Switch XL.
Okay, most fans will think I’m an idiot for wanting a slightly larger Switch and they would say it’s the perfect size. Making it any bigger would ruin the portability gimmick. But it’s not exactly pocket sized, is it? The Switch seems to be on par, size-wise, with a lot of tablet computers nowadays. And I don’t see anyone stuffing their iPads into their back pockets. There are even tablets that are much longer/wider than the Nintendo Switch and no one really complains about how “un-portable” they are.
I expected not many people to get riled up about the Switch’s current screen size. 6.2-inches is respectable (that’s what she said!). It’s good if you’re playing a single player game like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or perhaps Skyrim as you can keep it as close or as far from you as you want. It’s going to be a different story when you play a 2-player game with your friend. That 6.2-inch screen will look incredibly small with games like Mario Kart 8 splitting the screen into two. I expect to see a lot of gamers hunching over the Nintendo Switch and trying to get a better view of the screen. Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem if the screen was just a little bigger…
Looking at the various comparison pictures, it looks like the Switch, with the Joy-Cons attached to its sides, is almost as big as the Wii U’s tablet controller. That’s pretty large! I guess you can detach the Joy-Cons to make it smaller and it’ll fit really snugly in your pocket. But, if you do that, then you’d have the problem of keeping track of the Joy-Cons and you’ll also have to worry about where to keep them. Honestly, I don’t want the hassle, especially since misplacing them would mean shelling out an extra $80 for replacements. Nintendo might as well make the screen and the main body of the console larger since it’s actually already kind of big now.
Making the Switch’s screen would also mean increasing the dimensions of the console’s main body, which would give Nintendo a little more leeway with regard to giving the system a little more oomph. No one but Nintendo knows exactly how powerful the console is and I’m betting the R&D team over at the Big N’s house filled the insides of the Switch’s main body, which is a marvelous feat of engineering in itself. I can’t help but wonder what they could do with a little more room to work with. Maybe they could use that extra room to add a little more storage space. Or boost the Switch’s RAM. Or, better yet, give it a better battery so that you can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for more than 3 hours while you’re out.
I’m guessing one of the reasons why Nintendo decided on the Switch’s current size and specs wasn’t just to sell the portability aspect. I think the bigger reason was to keep manufacturing costs down. Having the screen at a svelte 6.2-inches and giving it a maximum resolution of 720p must’ve saved them some money because it’ll be much more pricey to use a screen that can display 1080p. Giving the Switch an onboard storage of 32GB and having consumers buy extra storage instead was another way to make the Switch cheaper as well. But, with the way technology is improving and how they seem to getting cheaper to manufacture, I don’t see why Nintendo won’t be able to make a bigger and improved Switch in a year.
It’s not like other companies haven’t made improvements to their hardware. The most famous case of which being the original Xbox 360s and their “red ring of death” – where console CPUs ran so hot they damaged some of the inner parts. There were a lot of recalls and there were a lot of people buying game console repair tools to get in there and fix the problem themselves. When Microsoft released the improved S model this problem went away (mostly). That though was a rare case where the actual console did need to be remodeled, most other times hardware improvements are used as a good marketing strategy. It keeps your aging products fresh in the minds of consumers. Sony is notorious for putting their PlayStation systems on a diet so we can get slimmer versions and that use up less power. Microsoft eventually decided to follow suit with their Xbox systems. Even Apple’s iPhone has continued to evolve. I can remember when people were fine when the first version of the iPhone only had a 3.5-inch screen and they thought the screen size was absolutely perfect. Now, it feels kind of ridiculous to look at a mobile device with such an itty bitty screen.
Even Nintendo has fallen into the practice of continuously improving and revising their products over and over again. They practically invented the practice with their mobile gaming platforms. They just kept on adding in the stuff that we didn’t know we wanted like color with the Game Boy Color, making it foldable for better portability with the Game Boy Advance SP, adding two screens for more input options with the Nintendo DS), 3D graphics with the Nintendo 3DS and surprise, surprise! They gave consumers the option of getting a 3DS with a bigger screen! If Nintendo could do that with the 3DS, they can most certainly do the same with the Switch at a later date.
There’s also going to be a unintended benefit to waiting for a Switch XL model and that’s a better library of games. The Switch’s launch title lineup looks pretty anemic now with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being the only surefire hit and system seller. Most of the heavy hitters, like Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hitting the system at a later date.
Like any new console launch, the number of games will balloon over time. It’ll take some time before developers and publishers really get to know the ins and outs of the Switch and start giving us really fantastic titles that will push the hardware to the limit in fun and creative new ways. But that’s going to take a while. Probably the same amount of time it’ll take for Nintendo to announce the Switch XL, perhaps.
Nintendo made a really good argument to get the Switch at launch. It looks really good and the first thing that went into my mind when I saw the initial announcement was to get one. But, after that initial impulse subsided and took a long, hard look at what the Switch is right now, I’m going to have to pass. It’s good but not quite what I’m looking for. Call me when Nintendo announces the Switch XL next year.