With the recent sneak-launch of the new Nintendo Switch revision, there are some Switch owners out there who feel snubbed. This is due to the revision featuring significantly better battery life over the now first-generation model. There have also been reports of the screen being brighter and having a slightly warmer tone, bringing it closer to what’s considered to be a “color-accurate” display. Overall, it’s a neat little “upgrade” (though it’s fundamentally still the same system). The big difference is that a new and improved chipset is on the inside, which is more power-efficient and in turn why the battery lasts longer. The system runs cooler too.
Due to all these minor improvements, some folks who just bought a Switch in recent weeks do have a right to feel a bit cheated. I got my Switch all the way back in late 2017 and even I feel a little annoyed about it. Mind you, this happens to fundamentally every console, so it’s not out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, those that really want the improved system will surely be hard-pressed to go through the process of dropping yet another $300 for a new Switch. This is where a decent trade-in program from Nintendo comes in.
The idea of this has been a big topic in the community in the last few days after reports started churning out that Nintendo of America was offering to freely exchange original Switch units purchased after July 17, 2019, for the revisions. One of our writers contacted Nintendo support to find out himself and received a confirmation that this was indeed the case. Other outlets did the same and also got the green light from Nintendo. Yet, for some reason, another Nintendo rep denied this a few days later, claiming that the company has no such trade-in program. Some folks seem to have had success despite the apparent double answers, but as it stands, it doesn’t seem to be a guarantee.
Weighing the Switchuation
This change in answer unsurprisingly upset the community. Though, admittedly, the original offer did seem rather generous. After all, for-profit companies are most concerned about making money. That’s why the thought of Nintendo willingly giving away thousands of new units is a bit of a stretch. But that’s where a compromise would come in handy.
Rather than simply denying exchanges entirely, I think Nintendo should take a page from Apple’s book. Like Nintendo, Apple is a hardware manufacturer, though a far larger one. Not to mention Apple products are notorious for carrying very high prices. Focusing primarily on its iPhone line of devices, a brand new iPhone XS starts at $999 in the U.S. However, Apple does have another offer. If a buyer owns an iPhone 8, they can trade that in, thus resulting in the 10S being discounted to $730. That’s $270 in savings, which coincidentally is nearly the price of a Switch.
Seeing that the Switch is a much cheaper device, the economics of the situation aren’t exactly the same. In other words, it’s harder for Nintendo to make a profit since their device is far cheaper. Nevertheless, a similar program does still have the potential to work.
Imagine if Nintendo allowed first-gen Switch owners to get $150 off the purchase of their next Switch by trading in. That’s a 50 percent discount. Even $100 might be enough to encourage some folks to go for the “upgrade.” Like Apple, Nintendo could then take the used units and sell them on their used/refurbished storefront for folks who are on a tight budget. In this scenario, everyone in the situation is getting something. Existing Switch owners get a revised system; Nintendo gets a small profit plus used stock to sell back to folks who otherwise may not have been able to afford a Switch at all.
Adopting this on a global scale might be a bit hit-and-miss, seeing that spending habits of consumers differ on a regional scale. But with the high demand of shoppers in the U.S., a system like this does have the potential of working at least moderately well. As profit-driven as Apple is, I doubt the company would still be pursuing such a venture if it weren’t proving to work for them. Nintendo has already imitated Apple with its free Joy-Con repairs, similar to how Apple has had to repair Macbook keyboards. So, a move like this wouldn’t be too unbelievable. Still, this is Nintendo we’re talking about, and there’s never any telling which exact direction it will take on a matter.
At the very least, if you live in the U.S., you do still have the option of going to GameStop to trade in your Switch for a revised model. Or you can also try selling it yourself, though of course there’s no guarantee your specific unit will be bought. This is why an official exchange program would help, as it would greatly reduce the hassle for the consumer. Beyond being a potential untapped profit opportunity for Nintendo, this would certainly help its PR status, especially after the fiasco with the Joy-Con drift issue over the past few weeks.