Nintendo Co. has announced a new Switch gaming device for release Oct. 8, a long-awaited ¥37,980 ($350) gadget that will succeed its popular console and likely catalyze a wave of new software and holiday season sales.
The new device marks the first hardware upgrade to the console originally released in 2017 for ¥29,980. It features a vibrant 7-inch OLED screen, a wide adjustable stand, a dock with a wired LAN port, 64 gigabytes of internal storage and enhanced audio, according to a statement from the company Tuesday.
The Kyoto-based game-maker broke with convention when it introduced the Switch, a hybrid console capable of connecting to a TV at home as well as being used as an independent mobile device. Sales of the machine have been consistently strong. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with runaway hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons supercharged demand throughout 2020.
Nintendo introduced a mobile-only Switch Lite in late 2019 as a more affordable ¥19,980 option. Cumulatively, the Switch family has sold 85 million units worldwide as of March 31.
Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said in May that the Switch’s sales momentum is unprecedented in the company’s 131-year history. He signaled confidence that the pace could be maintained or even increased as the platform is only at the midpoint of its planned lifecycle.
Nintendo’s share price is near its all-time high as the company continues to see greater demand for its devices than it’s able to immediately satisfy. Anticipation is also high around the slate of new games set to accompany the new model’s release.
However, the new model lacks the ability to display games at 4K resolution, leaving it behind rival consoles from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Group Corp. Nintendo had been exploring a 4K-capable version of the Switch, Bloomberg reported in March.
The first challenge for Nintendo ahead of the new console’s debut will be to ensure it has adequate inventory. Global semiconductor shortages have frustrated production plans across various industries, affecting everything from cars to TVs and consoles to personal electronics like headphones.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 has been extremely scarce since its launch in November, leading to game sales for the new platform also struggling, according to data from market trackers such as Japan’s Famitsu.
“A lesson we learned from the PlayStation 5’s launch is that making sure to have enough inventories is really the only step that any company can take to keep scalpers at bay and make gamers happy and willing to spend a lot on the platform,” Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda said.
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