Remember when the rumor mill suggested that Nintendo was already working on a sequel to the Switch? Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa shut that down pretty quickly, saying that no successor was in the works.
Now the rumor mill has shifted gears: Rather than a whole new generation, the whispers suggest Nintendo is tinkering with a cheaper, more portable variation of the original.
The rumor stems from a report by Nikkei (Japan’s predominant financial newspaper), later translated by NintendoEverything. According to their translation, Nintendo “has informed multiple suppliers and game development companies that they intend to release them as early as 2019.”
While the Switch is already kinda-sorta portable, it’s also kinda-sorta not. In its handheld mode, it comes in at around 9.4 x 4 inches — the majority of which is made up of a big, oh-so-scratchable and fully exposed screen. Taking it on the road without some sort of hardshell case (which would further bulk things up) is pretty daunting — and then there’s the dock, which you’d need if you want to hook it up to a TV and get the system running at its full potential. You can definitely take it outside of the house, but it’s not quite as portable as, say, a DS.
Nintendo is no stranger to releasing new variations of existing consoles. Game Boy evolved into Game Boy Color. Game Boy Advance picked up a folding form factor and a backlight and became the Game Boy Advance SP. Two years later, they flattened it back out and released the itty-bitty Game Boy Micro. They released the 3DS with its 3D screen, then dropped the 3D for the 2DS, then brought the 3D back and made it huge for the 3DS XL, then completed the chain by dropping the 3D again and making it big with the 2DS XL.
But what would a smaller Switch look like? It’s tough to imagine a Switch with a smaller screen that would still let you pop the Joy-Con controllers on/off; perhaps the controls on a smaller version would be built-in and locked in place, but maintain wireless compatibility with Joy-Cons for multiplayer/motion-sensitive games? Maybe something with some sort of built-in screen cover or protection? Oh, and please, oh please, let there be a better kickstand.
As ArsTechnica points out, there’s also probably some room to be shed in rethinking the Switch’s dock. A smaller Switch would presumably need a different dock anyway — so why not make the dock itself more portable, too? DIY’ers and enthusiasts have been building their own micro docks for years now… and as someone who packs his Switch (dock and all) into a suitcase a dozen times a year, I certainly wouldn’t mind a smaller set.