Many mobile gamers were disappointed when an update to the popular Nintendo Switch, which debuted almost three years ago, was canceled earlier in the year. Despite all the rumors that had been circulating for the past six months, Nintendo announced that there would be no new Nintendo hardware in 2020. The Nintendo Switch is exceedingly popular with gamers, achieving more than 50 million in worldwide unit sales in January, according to Statitsta.com. Switch’s popularity is due, largely, to its unique usage model that allows it to be alternatively used as both a stationary console and portable device. This is in stark contrast to the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4.
Nintendo aficionados will recall that Nintendo’s hardware record is a bit spotty with extended periods of no new product announcements and other intervals when product release activity significantly picks up. For example, the Nintendo Wii U was announced in 2012, and it another took five years before the original Switch was released in 2017 (coincidentally deep into the life cycles of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4).
Switch was never a graphics powerhouse
When it comes to graphics performance, Nintendo hardware has never been bleeding edge. Gamers looking for the best graphics performance have always been inclined towards the Xbox or PlayStation (though their latest incarnations are increasingly showing their age). Serious gamers (with bigger wallets) often gravitate towards PC gaming (and more increasingly, portables) because of the breathtaking graphics performance these products are often capable of. No one will mistake the immersive graphics performance of a PC, equipped with the latest NVIDIA or AMD graphics card, versus the kind of run-of-the-mill video experience that the Switch offers.
Given this, it was no surprise when rumors began circulating that Nintendo was planning to release a “Switch Pro.” The Switch Pro promised to provide souped-up graphics performance and displays, utilizing Sharp’s IGZO panels, which are well known for their thinness and power efficiency. Heightened graphics performance is a frequent wish list item for Nintendo Switch users—the top resolution that Switch offers (in docked mode) is only 1080p. Moreover, the current Nintendo Switch uses an aging Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that has been crying out for an upgrade that could make the Switch run longer, cooler, and presumably faster.
mClassic is the perfect accessory that extends the usefulness of the Nintendo Switch
As I’ve opined in past columns, Marseille Inc., a small Bay Area-based company, sells one of the best inexpensive accessories for gaming consoles to hit the market in the past several years. Originally packaged in the form of a “smart” HDMI cable known as mCable, the product is the industry’s first plug and play graphics processor solution. It plugs into any gaming console and applies dramatic image enhancements via custom anti-aliasing technology powered by Marseille’s 4K graphics processor. In other words, it transforms your console gaming experience by natively upscaling the video resolution of the most popular console games to 1440p/4K resolution. The company recently announced a $99 “dongle” called mClassic that works with any HDMI cable. This accessory was launched successfully via an Indiegogo campaign back in October and sold over 10,000 units in less than two months. From a business standpoint, mClassic is a particularly interesting accessory for retailers given that the install base of legacy gaming consoles (including the current Xbox One and PlayStation 4) from the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo exceeds 500 million units.
The mClassic is a particularly compelling accessory for Nintendo Switch users as it creates a “Switch Pro”-like experience without the need to acquire new hardware. As the native resolution of the Switch (in docked mode with a TV) tops out at 1080p, mClassic is an incredibly convenient device that allows Switch users to enjoy 1440p/4K-class resolution with their games on large format TVs without sacrificing video quality. I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for mClassic—numerous respected publications have reviewed the product positively.
So, while Nintendo Switch enthusiasts may be disappointed that there is no “Switch Pro” on the horizon (at least for the remainder of this year), mClassic is a terrific accessory that allows you to extract more value and performance of the existing Switch. It was a hot accessory over the past holiday season, and I suspect it will continue to be a popular item in bundle configurations.
Coronavirus situation may have an impact on refresh of new Xbox and PlayStation models
While it’s too early to make definitive predictions, it’s reasonable wonder if the coronavirus’s supply chain impact will affect the holiday launches of the new Xbox One X and Sony PlayStation 5, which are due to hit store shelves in the November/December timeframe. The coronavirus has been quite a damaging force in the tech space over the past few weeks with the cancellation of multiple gaming conferences. For its part, Microsoft signaled last week that it believes the coronavirus will not have a material impact on the new Xbox One X release later this year, though the supply chain situation is dynamic and largely unknowable. As for Nintendo Switch, the coronavirus epidemic has caused production delays in China that led to the Switch selling out on the official My Nintendo Store in Japan. This situation may have been a contributing factor to Nintendo’s decision to halt the release of the rumored Switch “Pro” model.
Given this, Nintendo Switch users should be glad that an accessory like mClassic exists—it can help the Switch remain relevant as a solid mobile gaming device for the remainder of the year. The Switch will undoubtedly get a major product refresh sometime in the first half of 2021, but that’s a terribly long time to wait. The gamers who enjoy the flexibility of the Switch platform are unlikely to upgrade to the new Xbox One X or PlayStation 5. Someone needs to send a “thank you” note to Marseille.