With Switch Sales Strong, What’s Next for Portable Gaming?

Nintendo’s latest platform has managed to surprise and intrigue with its console-sized capabilities on a portable device. In under a month, the Switch has reportedly sold over 1.5 million units, with the publisher announcing plans to double production in order to accommodate the staggering demand for the console. While we’re still years off from determining the overall success of the Switch, there’s no denying that the hybrid console has had a strong start, leaving many to wonder what this signifies for the current status of solely portable gaming devices.

Sticking with Nintendo, the developer has announced that they will continue to support the 3DS with software for the foreseeable future, with exclusives like Mario Sports Superstars and indie titles still being released for the platform. And yet, as we near the six-year anniversary of the 3DS’ launch, it’s seeming less and less likely that the handheld will be able to coexist with the Switch, as it lacks the power and guaranteed lineup of its fellow device. As E3 draws closer, Nintendo’s digital event will be a key indicator of how the company truly plans on building the future of the 3DS, or if the handheld even truly has one.

While the PlayStation Vita was never truly a rival to the 3DS in terms of sales, it did offer a more powerful handheld platform that had its fair share of both first-party and independent exclusives, even if its own developer seems reluctant to acknowledge its existence over the past couple of years. Five years later, Sony shows no signs of wanting to return to the handheld market, thanks to the continued success of its home platform, but the Switch’s promising start may cause the developer to start singing a different tune. Providing a strong portable device that properly complements the PS4 could push Sony to even greater heights in the gaming industry, as long as they pay close attention to what works, and doesn’t, for Nintendo’s newest console.

While mobile phones vary greatly in terms of game-playing potential, their multi-natured capabilities and simplistic game designs often lead to far greater success than Sony and Nintendo have seen on their own devices, thanks to hits like Clash of Clans and Pokemon Go. No matter how popular the Switch gets, the hybrid will never truly replace phones, nor was that its intention, leaving the Apple and Android marketplaces to still continue being a viable source of revenue for game developers. However, that doesn’t mean smartphones can’t stand to learn from the Switch, as more powerful devices may also lead to less dubious means of playability that mobile titles have become so infamous for.

There’s no doubt that Sony and mobile developers, among others, are keeping a close eye on the public’s reaction to the console, as they start making or adjusting their own plans for securing their place in the portable gaming market. Even Nintendo itself must make some important decisions for the future of its more dated handheld, to continue prolonging the success of both of their devices for the foreseeable future. With the Switch already making this large of a potential ripple effect within the gaming industry, those who prefer gaming on the go will have to keep a close eye on where this important subset of the industry goes from here.