A while back we shared a chat between a couple of Team NL's members talking about the topic of "what is a game 'developer'"? That was a nice little back and forth format in which we were chatting over a virtual cup of tea - or virtually but with actual cups of tea and coffee... you get the idea. We decided to revisit the format for a little chin-wag about the Nintendo Switch OLED Model, now that the dust has settled and many will have decided whether to bother chasing after pre-orders.
For this chat we have Gavin Lane, Kate Gray and Tom Whitehead talking semi-seriously about Nintendo's latest Switch iteration. What do we think? Who will buy it? Does it look like a stormtrooper?
Let's get right into it.
Gavin: I should preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that I’m the dude who bought four 3DSs. I am that idiot. I traded in my original Aqua and my subsequent red XL to upgrade, but have since gone back and got them again. I may have a problem. How many 3DSssss did you two buy?
Kate: Two, technically, but I swapped one in for the New Nintendo 3DS… XL… plus??? I have technically owned three Switches: One was an impulse buy (from NL Director Ant, four years ago); one was an impulse buy because it came with a ton of supermarket loyalty points (which I spent on a fancy toothbrush) but then I immediately felt guilty and sold it; the third is the one I got for work because the first one is Drift Central. I should not be allowed to have a credit card.
Tom: I had the original, which I then traded for an XL, then got the ‘ambassador’ little New 3DS that gives me hand cramps but has Xenoblade coverplates and coloured buttons, so the cramps are worth it.
Gavin: Okay, so varying degrees of idiocy… sorry, enthusiasm for Nintendo products, then! First up, after all the rumours and hype, what did you think when the ‘new’ console was finally revealed?
Tom: I’d actually expected an ‘XL’, because anything with new chipsets is a no-go this year for practical reasons, so I wasn’t ‘disappointed’ as a result. I just thought “oh dear, that won’t go down well”.
Kate: Mostly, I just thought, “oh no, everyone is going to be so angry.” And I was right about that, at least!
But personally, I just got a new Switch, so I’m good for the time being. Hopefully the base Switches miiiiight be cheaper now?
Gavin: I think the main barrier to price reduction on the ‘base’ model at the moment is that, from a business perspective, there’s zero reason for Nintendo to reduce the price — Switch is still selling huge numbers. The hardware itself is getting prettttttty long in the tooth, but there’s still huge demand so I don’t see a blanket reduction in the near future. Perhaps we’ll see some deeper discounts and bigger deals on the regular version come Black Friday and Holiday season, though.
I bought the ‘Slightly Better Battery’ Switch using the excuse that my mum could buy my old one off me to play Animal Crossing. Cheap, I’m not a monster.
My first thought seeing it was “ooo, sexy new dock”, actually.
Tom: Funny you noticed the dock, as the OLED is really all about handheld play. As someone who plays portable 90% of the time it’s hard not to consider a trade-in upgrade, but if you play on a TV there’s pretty much no point. It is a pretty dock though.
Gavin: I play maybe 75% docked… which makes the OLED Switch make even less sense for me! As established above, though, I‘ve got a problem. I bought the ‘Slightly Better Battery’ Switch using the excuse that my mum could buy my old one off me to play Animal Crossing. Cheap, I’m not a monster.
Kate: I’m also 90% portable, but as you might have read on my piece about burn-in… I’m a bit too afraid of burn-in. I know a bunch of people said it’s not a problem, but I don’t want to be anxious about it!
Tom: No Tik-Tok on Switch, you’ll be fine!
Gavin: I totally understand that anxiety. I’ve had an OLED TV for a few years now, and I’m pretty active when it comes to changing channels and running the in-built pixel shifter program. Feels like I’m having to nurse the tech at times. Worth it, though. I’m still amazed when it displays black and you can’t tell if the screen is on or not.
What are our feelings on the price?
Kate: I already forgot what the price was. $50 more? That seems reasonable to me; it’s a new model with a few minor but much-needed updates. I’m mostly relieved to see that grille at the top getting more fins, that was the bane of my life.
I have a theory that Nintendo was going to announce this during E3, as a minor upgrade that helps them keep up with Switch demand, and then they saw the hype, and just… completely backed out.
Tom: I think the price is fair for what should be a good screen upgrade (albeit, predictably, there's 'surprise' that Nintendo is making a profit on each unit), as it's a bit bigger, higher quality and combined with other small improvements. It’ll be interesting to see how sales go, especially if Nintendo does Black Friday deals and game bundle promotions with the original model. Maybe the OLED will be the ‘premium’ one that ultimately does less numbers because of that extra $50. I doubt Nintendo will phase out the original in any way, for example.
Kate: I have a theory that Nintendo was going to announce this during E3, as a minor upgrade that helps them keep up with Switch demand, and then they saw the hype, and just… completely backed out. I feel a bit bad for them, because there’s no way they could have lived up to it.
Tom: Yeah, that seems very possible. Especially when you see those white Joy-Cons, almost a very deliberate Metroid Dread tie-in that would have slotted into the finale of the Direct. But the internet speculation may have spoiled it.
Gavin: It’s a bit much when you see some people blaming poor performance in third-party games on Nintendo for not supplying the extra juice of a Switch ‘Pro’ which the devs were apparently ‘relying’ on!
Kate: I wonder if they’re now scrambling to make the Pro… 👀
Tom: The internet chatter won’t significantly affect hardware development and strategy, in my opinion. Sales of the system are still massive, so the ‘noise’ online is a small percentage of the real world market. There’ll likely be an upgrade in the next couple of years, because the Switch is getting old, but I strongly believe the online talk will have had little impact on the end-product, it’ll be more about what major partners want, what research says will succeed etc.
Gavin: Agreed. I don’t see Nintendo getting jittery or riled up by internet hopes and dreams, or reports that conflated this SKU with whatever else is in the works. Certainly not while huge bundles of cash continue to roll in from the current console, anyhow.
And that really is what Switch OLED is: the current console with a bit bigger screen. My first reaction on seeing the Neon Red/Blue Joy-Con version was “Who the heck is going to buy that version?”, forgetting that there are still loads of people who don’t own a Switch, people who may well pick one up over the next couple of years. Nobody I know, but millions of people.
Kate: I thought, “who on earth would buy a Fortnite console?” and the answer is me, for work. There’s always someone.
Tom: Those Joy-Con colours are nice, mind!
Kate: I’m not won over by the white, personally… on a console, it’s fine; on a HANDHELD, it’s gonna get greasy. I know people in the comments are always quite upset that I’m implying they are all filthy beings, but humans are greasy! It’s just natural! Of course, you can take good care of it, or wear gloves, but who knows what’ll happen. It might yellow in the sun (it probably won’t).
Tom: At least the console is still black, and when the Joy-Con sticks pack-in after eight months we’ll buy different coloured ones anyway…
Gavin: Ha, sad as it is, getting fresh Joy-Cons is one of the big attractions for me. I gave my Slightly Better Battery Switch ones to my mum with my old console (see, told you I’m not a monster!) For me, I kinda like how the white dock will sit nicely next to my TV and blend with the living room a bit better. I’m paranoid about my gaming stuff spilling out of the office and taking over the whole flat. I saw a pic with the white PS5 and the Xbox… *thinks* Series S! They made a nice trio. I don’t own either of those consoles yet, but I like the idea.
Kate: I wonder if the people who do custom paint jobs are happy about having a white Switch, which probably makes a much better canvas…
Tom: Weirdly it was the only thing that nearly put me off, as every other box and gadget in my living room is black. Then I figured the dock would look nice and stand out, like a rebellious throwback hitting us with exciting new things like an ethernet input.
Kate: It looks like a stormtrooper. That’s the opposite of rebellious!
Tom: Oh no, now you’re putting me off it again!
Gavin: For a moment while watching the reveal trailer, I thought the Switch logo on the front lit up!
Tom: Pro feature confirmed!
Gavin: Okay then, the billion dollar question(s): Will you be getting one, and why?
Kate: Nah. If I still had my Original Launch Switch™, I would consider the minor upgrade; as it is, I’m good. I miiiight get the Joy-Cons if they sell them separately, because my drift on the Old Switch is so bad that I can’t play games at all. I tried to fix it, but it just changed the direction of the drift
Tom: Oof, that’s not good. I will be, but it only makes sense doing it with a trade-in to take the edge off the price. As I said earlier I play almost exclusively in handheld, in fact my dock was only used for the first time in ages when grabbing docked screenshots for a review. So with that in mind I have some favourite games I’d like to play on a better / bigger screen, plus Metroid Dread of course!
Gavin: Oooh, Dread... Well, having established my idiocy from the off, of course I’ll be getting one. For me, as a package that comes with new Joy-Cons, a sexy new screen and a second dock (which I’ve wanted for my office for years now), it offers just enough. For sure, Nintendo knows what it’s doing by injecting this marginally premium version into the market, and I’m certain I won’t be the only father eyeing the new SKU and using the kids as an excuse to splash out come October time. They can have the old one, I’ll upgrade!
My kids are a tad young and I’ve got a few 3DSs knocking around, but you know. Any excuse.
Those are some of our thoughts on the OLED, but where do you stand? Are you thinking of getting one? Do you think it'll sell well? Does it look like a stormtrooper? Let us know in the comments.