Since it was announced, there's been a lot of complaints about the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite, many of them about how it's weaker, how people want a more powerful Switch, or they don't see the use for a Switch that doesn't well ... switch. To all of you, I have something pretty simple to say: The Nintendo Switch Lite isn't for you. Nor is it for me, but it has a definite place for several audiences.
Switch Lite For KidsThe Nintendo Switch has an unusual problem for Nintendo—it's damn fragile. The Joy-Cons, in particular, have proven to be fussy and full of issues. From the connectivity issues on the left Joy-Con at launch to the incessant drifting that happens with the joysticks due to their design, the Joy-Cons go against a tradition Nintendo has had since it released its pocket-sized bomb-resistant gaming device known as the Game Boy. Nintendo designs its devices to be sturdy, something that likely comes from their background with toys, which helped inform them that kids are little monsters when it comes to taking care of their toys.
The Switch isn't like that though. There are too many moving parts, the Joy-Cons have to be able to connect/disconnect, the Switch has to be able to dock, size needs to be thin, and you end up with a surprisingly fragile device. Just like the Nintendo 3DS could be a bit fussy (although it is much hardier than the Switch) and the 2DS gave a tougher kid-friendly version for less, the Nintendo Switch Lite will provide the same thing. You lose the Switching and some minor other features but get what should be a hardier device. It is a bit of a shame that it won't work with the Nintendo Labo given these trade-offs, but the $100 cut in price and increase in durability make this a device perfect for kids.
Switch Lite For Handheld OnlyThe second case for the Switch Lite is the number of users that primarily or exclusively use it in Handheld mode. You're looking at about a third of the current Switch audience, and the smaller size factor here will be a boon to them. The Switch Lite is less fussy, and it's more likely to be able to fit in your pocket or bag easily on the go. For these folks, those are concrete gains for something they weren't really using in docked mode, and it fits in well as a successor to previous Nintendo and Sony handhelds.
One other group is those who have a Switch in the household already. Nintendo's expressed goal is to have a Switch for each member of the family, but you don't really need one to hook into a TV for each. It's much more sensible to have one core main unit for console play and the Switch Lites for others to use on the go.
Switch Lite Replacing 3DSUnlike Sony with the Vita, Nintendo isn't hurrying to kill the 3DS, but they have stopped supporting it with first-party content. They are still selling some units and games, but Nintendo is looking ahead and knows the 3DS and the 2DS are fading fast. In the 2018/2019 Financial Year, the 3DS family (including the 2DS, New 3DS and various versions thereof), made up only 5% of Nintendo's income compared to the Switch making up 86%.
So while Nintendo isn't shutting down the stores yet or stopping production of them, the end is in sight. That means you better have a replacement ready at the lower entry point to fill that void that will be gone—that is precisely where the Switch Lite fits. It's the secondary, or supplemental, option to the Switch for those with specific use cases or who really care about getting a lower price point first and foremost. If you aren't one of them, do you really want to get upset about there being more ways to play for different people?
Are you one of those whose use case fits the Nintendo Switch Lite? What are your thoughts on the device? Let us know in the comments below!