Since the surprise reveal of the Switch Lite Wednesday, I’ve seen countless people question Nintendo’s decision to release a trimmed-down version of their wildly successful console. A lot of the comments I’ve read have made valid points, but I think many people are overlooking one thing — the target audience.
A dying market
One market that Nintendo is aiming for with the Switch Lite is the handheld gamers. With the PlayStation Vita killed off, Nintendo is the only significant player still pursuing handhelds. But despite Nintendo’s claims, the 3DS is on its last stretch, if not already dead. The Switch Lite can fill this gap, allowing Nintendo to continue to dominate this market.
Handheld systems rely on two things for success, one being their price. By removing all the gimmicky features of the base Switch model (some of which were rarely used to their full potential), Nintendo can lower the price point of the Switch Lite to appeal more to handheld gamers. Sure, $200 is still a lot of money, but it beats $300! This discount brings the price more in line with what we’d expect for handhelds.
Games are the other major factor to a handheld’s success. The Vita was a great system, for instance, but the lack of software support contributed significantly to its demise. The Switch Lite won’t have that problem, having access to almost all of the Switch’s library. More importantly, Switch Lite owners should primarily have the same experiences that current Switch players have in handheld mode.
In addition to the handheld market, the Switch Lite is a perfect way to get more Switch family systems in the hands of consumers. Currently, many users see the Switch as a “one-per-household” system. However, Nintendo has made it clear that they want the Switch “to be owned not just by every family, but by every single person.” By cutting out features, Nintendo can afford to lower the price, reducing the barrier to entry.
Imagine a family with multiple kids who want to have Pokémon battles with each other. What about a college kid wanting to play games with his friends or family? The Switch Lite introduces a more affordable way to allow that to happen.
Options are good
The Switch Lite is the 2DS to the Switch’s 3DS. It’s not for everyone, but that’s okay. It’s not meant to be. What it’s meant to do is give those who don’t care about specific features or want to game on a budget more affordable options. That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate criticisms. But perspective is essential to keep in mind.