While the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite are the company’s current focus, the older Nintendo 3DS handheld will continue to receive Nintendo’s support into the next year.
The Nintendo Switch has been a tremendous success for Nintendo, matching Sony’s PlayStation 4 for year-on-year sales, and proving that power and spectacle isn’t everything when it comes to popularity.
Yet at $299 USD for the original home and portable game console hybrid model, it’s twice as expensive as its predecessor, the Nintendo 3DS.
That’s led to the September 2019 introduction of a Switch Lite as a second option.
The Switch Lite doesn’t have the detachable controllers or TV display potential of the OG model — so forget about using it for the Switch’s “Wii Fit” replacement, “Ring Fit Adventure” — but it can play almost everything else from the console’s impressive library, retailing at a more wallet-friendly $199 instead.
If there have been over 41 million Switch consoles shipped to stores, as Nintendo’s impressive recent figures assert (with lifetime sales presumably not too far behind), it’s still not yet overtaken the 3DS, which stands at 75 million units.
How many of those 3DS handhelds are still in regular use, Nintendo of America’s president Doug Bowser didn’t say, but in a conversation with The Verge he confirmed that the company would show support for 3DS hardware and software through the end of 2019 and into 2020.
Yet with the Switch Lite now in play, Bowser’s statement suggests that 2020 might be the 3DS’s sunset year, especially after a handful of new game releases trickled out over the course of 2019.
The Switch has excelled at taking hits and hit franchises from both predecessors — not only the portable 3DS but also the Wii U home console — and providing improved descendants: “Mario Kart 8” became “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “Splatoon” levelling up into “Splatoon 2,” the “Super Smash Bros.” series reincarnated as the accurately named “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Super Mario Galaxy” enlarged in scope and wonder to become “Super Mario Odyssey,” and “The Legend of Zelda” equalling if not exceeding its franchise history highpoint through “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”
Nintendo has also course corrected from the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS generations in welcoming indie developers and third-party partners to the Switch platform, and while the console’s best-seller lists are dominated by internally-developed titles, the console has made itself a home for “Octopath Traveler,” “Enter the Gungeon,” “Stardew Valley,” “Celeste,” “Hollow Knight,” “Undertale” and many more.