An attempt in tweaking Nintendo’s new console for a better and realistic version 2.0
As for every new consumer product release, plenty of ifs and buts are frantically talked about by the fans. The forums are full of wish-lists for what the revision of the console may be (i.e. r/NintendoSwitch). In this article I try to imagine what feature and tweaks the future version may realistically have, both from a technological and economical standpoint. The Switch I believe is a great console and represents a new paradigm for gaming. Following are some of the ideas and designs I’d like to see implemented.
One of the most prominent feature of a portable console is the screen. The screen, 6.2 inches, while quite good quality-wise, does not exploit the whole front of the console. The option here could be reducing the bezel size while at the same time increasing the screen dimension. It could allow Nintendo to promote it as a pseudo-XL version of the previous one and reaching 7 inches overall. The upper dimension of 7 inches is usually talked about with tablets as the largest size possible with which one can comfortably grip the screen one handedly. Marketing as the XL could produce a similar appeal as the larger versions of the Nintendo DS and 3DS had. While increasing the size of the screen, the panel tech could also remain the same, maintaining the cost down.
Few hours after the release of the console a lot of complaints about stuck Joycons (the Switch’s detachable controllers) appeared on the internet. Both that and connectivity issues plagued the first few days of news reporting. A reworking of the controllers could allow rethinking the housing mechanism on the main body itself. Being able to plug in the Joycons in both directions and automatic screen re-orientation would finally make the Switch usable while charging. In fact, right now the USB-C charger sits on the bottom of the console in a way that makes impossible playing with the kickstand up and charge the system at the same time. Regarding this point …
The kickstand on the back of the case is loose and wobbly, but more importantly doesn’t allow a firm standing in many common scenario. It’s impossible, for example, to use the console on the lap or in small spaces where there’s not enough leverage. A possible solution would be to replicate the same kickstand as the Windows Surface, covering the entire length of the product, providing more stability and near-full degree of motion. While using the exact same mechanism could be not feasible in production for cost or patent consideration, limiting the possibile angle configurations at four (to maintain re-orientation symmetry) would be a giant leap ahead comparing to now.
The Joycons, since we’re at it, could benefit from a relatively minor rework. The introduction of analog triggers (running depth) instead of the shallow ones we have in the current version could be an improvement both in functionality and ergonomics. Furthermore the gates housing the joystick being octagonal would make the input more precise, especially in fighting games (interesting note regarding the evolution of joysticks can be found on the Wikipedia article). The last modification to the controllers will definitely be the most controversial one: the D-Pad. Instead of having 4 buttons, using the historical D-Pad cross would greatly improve comfort and familiarity. Also it would satiate a clear desire from a vocal minority who miss it so much they even try to mod the console! Why did I say controversial? Because the reason why the buttons are the way they are is clearly to allow the independent use of the controllers from two players. In that configuration the arrow-buttons of the left controller become regular action-buttons for party game. I would argue nonetheless that the improvement in single player usage of the standard D-Pad would outweigh the cons in the multi-user scenario.
The dock would also be a good candidate for minor tweaking, right now it just works as a ‘dumb’ piece of plastic to house the Switch. It would be nice to use a different /gentler insertion mechanism for the console itself and introduce some handy card holders on the top of the dock itself for a quick game swap there and then. Also including an ethernet port would be a great user-friendly move and it would avoid forcing players with bad connectivity to buy the inevitable adapter.
Most importantly the introduction of an integrated 4K up-scaler would make the dock a vital part of the whole redesign. An up-scaler would help improving the quality of the output of the power bound Switch introducing a ‘passive’ solution that wouldn’t require additional effort from game developers. Plus the Switch could be now marketed as a 4K console…
Ending now on the hardware front, in relatively random order:
- Improvements in the wireless module (issues).
- A better battery with quick charge, you can never go wrong with this.
- Greater storage (c’mon Nintendo we’re in the age of digital stores and you can’t give at least 64 GB away).
On the software end, the dreamt changes would be more limited. The new UI looks gorgeous and I think an amazing work has been done. This are the addition I’d be pleased to see:
- Better support for multimedia services maybe aided by Nintendo itself such as Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, etc … While the Switch is not strictly a tablet, not having to bring one together would increase usage, aid a ‘substitute’ perception and help with overall satifaction (doing more with less). And this would not only help the portable side of the deal, but would make the console a decent home entertainment device all-round.
- Bluetooth audio, this is a niche issue I’d admit, but being able to use wireless headphones with the device would be pretty damn convenient.
- Native audio chat, the idea of having a separate smartphone app to let the user do the same thing that they take for granted in the other console is draconian (the Dreamcast had voice-chat 20 years ago!).
The paid subscription service still hasn’t launched, but certainly hasn’t made anybody excited. From the separate chat application to the limited monthly game offer, it shows that online is still Nintendo’s weak point. Here there are some ideas to right the ship:
- Every month a free Virtual Console game is given to the user. No time limits, no strings attached. Let people enjoy NES or SNES game for the few bucks a month the service will cost. Even just Nintendo’s own games would be plenty enough and it would avoid licenses’ issues.
- Offer In-Home streaming PC game. Buy Rainway or implement a similar application Nintendo! Let players enjoy their Steam games on the Switch if they’re on the same WiFi network as their computer. More than the mere convenience factor, it would help Nintendo to position itself as a perfect PC gaming companion.
- This is kind of a no-brainer, given that it’s already offered on the other consoles, but: cloud backup of save files.
- In-game audio playlist. It would be awesome being able to listen to your Spotify playlist while playing a game.
Hopefully you liked the article, I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!