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Nintendo’s Switch Lite puts the company’s console lines at a crossroads



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Before the release of the Nintendo Switch, the company had a hit-and-miss record with game consoles that stretched back to almost a quarter-century, with a hit (Nintendo 64), a miss ( GameCube), another hit (Wii), and another miss (Wii U). Contrast that with the company’s long-standing dominance in portable consoles, a turf it long defended from early competitors like Sega and a late run from Sony before finally acknowledging its need to start developing for smartphones.

The Switch entered both of these timelines. Since it was capable of portable play, Nintendo placed de facto limits on its graphic sophistication compared to rivals. Early ads for the Switch played up its many gaming modes, but its two main configurations were as a gaming tablet and a docked TV console. But its detachable Joy-Con controllers were subpar as home console controllers. And because portable play opened more gaming opportunities to gamers on the go, the Switch quickly gained more attention as a portable console. And the more attention it received as such, the more ardently Nintendo insisted that, no, it wasn’t a portable console since the Nintendo 3DS and its variants served that role.

With the Nintendo Switch Lite, the handheld console that wasn’t a handheld console has become a handheld console. In getting the price of the device below $200, Nintendo has removed TV output as well as integrated the standalone Joy-Cons into the body of the unit, thus axing many of the more novel if fringe play modes  The Switch Lite will be compatible with the overwhelming majority of Switch games, but they must support “Handheld Mode.” Nintendo is also doing more to make the flagship Switch a better mobile gaming platform, with its Japan division announcing an updated version of the screen-equipped console that upgrades its battery life

The Switch Lite’s embrace of its handheld identity has again turned the spotlight on the 2DS/3DS, which represents the latest incarnation of a platform that began 15 years ago with the first DS. For now, Nintendo says it will continue to support the 3DS for as long as there is demand, but the writing is on the wall for the aging platform.

The Switch Lite not only disrupts the company’s traditional handheld platforms, but it also leaves the company’s home console picture murky. Remember that the Switch was the replacement for the Wii U. With a cheaper Switch requiring handheld game modes, developers may be less inclined to support the Switch’s TV console mode. On the other hand, it would be challenging for Nintendo to launch another home console unless it was comfortable with retiring the Switch as a TV device. In that case, the Switch would inherit the Game Boy legacy. That positioning has some appeal as the product is sufficiently different from smartphones — even if the Switch Lite’s display is sized more like a smartphone’s than a tablet’s.

In the living room, Nintendo’s new thing would face the daunting world of ray-tracing 8K consoles armed with the franchises that have accompanied every Nintendo console launch. Faced with that prospect, the Switch becomes less of a particular model and more of Nintendo’s path forward, an ongoing merging of its home and handheld console lines.


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Gaming News

Sony buys Insomniac Games, details on Death Stranding, Nintendo & more




If you’re a PlayStation owner who loved last year’s Spider-Man as much as the critics (and just about everybody else), then Sony’s newly-announced plan to snag Spidey developer Insomniac Games in its web of in-house development studios probably comes as welcome news. 

Just ahead of the kickoff of this year’s Gamescom convention in Germany, Sony revealed that it just acquired Insomniac as the newest member of its elite roster of first-party studios — meaning that any future projects that Insomniac puts out will likely remain firmly encamped in Sony’s lineup of PlayStation exclusives.  

Spider-Man already lit up the gaming charts just on the strength of its PS4-only availability, and Insomniac already has a long track record making games that align with the PlayStation brand (like the original Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, and the Resistance shooter series). 

Sony Interactive’s Shawn Layden even tipped his hat to the role Spider-Man’s success played in the timing of the pickup, telling The Hollywood Reporter the hot-selling game “underscores how consequential Insomniac is to gaming in the overall… There are just a clutch of studios in that independent sphere who are at an accomplishment level of something like Insomniac. They are a very rare bird and we felt that this was the time to formalize the relationship.”

By formally joining team Sony, Insomniac stands alongside makers of other critically-acclaimed PS exclusives like Horizon: Zero Dawn developer Guerilla Games, Little Big Planet maker Media Molecule, and Uncharted creator Naughty Dog. We don’t know what Insomniac has in the works next, but if it does even half as well as Spider-Man (which has sold more than 13 million copies to date, via Polygon), we’d call it a welcome addition to Sony’s in-house friendly neighborhood of PlayStation game makers.

Tons of other cool tidbits dropped from Gamescom’s first day, including a handful of new details about Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s first post-Metal Gear game. 

Apparently, all those babies we’ve been seeing trapped in jars in previous Death Stranding trailers are integral to tying the game’s fragmented world together, with the one that star Norman Reedus’ character carries — nicknamed “Bridge Baby,” or just “BB” for short — serving as a bridge between the worlds of the living and the dead, according to Game Informer

Kojima himself turned up at Gamescom to unveil an exclusive new Stranding trailer that showed off Sam (played by Reedus) peeing, an act that’s reportedly a repeatable game mechanic that can yield some kind of player perk, according to Gamesradar+. If that’s not enough to get you even more curious ahead of the game’s Nov. 8 release, then have another drink: Death Stranding hits PlayStation 4 this Nov. 8.

A cyber-dude having a heart-to-heart talk with his robo-cycle: that’s the Gamescom intro we got in Disintegration, the upcoming sci-fi game announced from Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto and V1 Interactive. 

Check out the reveal trailer for Disintegration below, which takes off on a riding tour of the game’s post-apocalyptic world. The game reportedly will be a first-person shooter that serves up both a single-player campaign and a multiplayer experience, and is due for a 2020 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Nintendo opened Gamescom with a 23-minute sizzle reel showcasing a batch of new indie games, and a common thread that seems to run throughout the whole thing is a whimsical take on science fiction, from one developer after another. 

Whether it’s the rolling, bumping action of 2D side-scroller Earth Night (which tackles the “dragon apocalypse”) or the wild, Little Big Planet vibes we got from the deconstructed world of Youropa (which features a cutesy yellow character hopping across the ruins of the Eiffel Tower), the indies on display from Nintendo definitely don’t look like they’re being done on a shoestring budget. 

Buckle in for a wild ride and check ‘em all out in the trailer below:

Finally, there’s nothing whimsical about the new gameplay trailer for Predator: Hunting Grounds, an “immersive asymmetrical shooter set in remote areas around the world,” as the description notes. And thankfully, it teases the alien stalker series returning to its stifling, lost-in-the-jungle roots. 

“Play as a member of an elite Fireteam and complete paramilitary operations before the Predator finds you,” teases developer IllFonic of the game, which lets players control every character. “Or, play as the Predator to hunt the most worthy prey, choosing from your vast array of deadly alien tech to collect your trophies, one by one.” 

Check out the new trailer above, and get Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover on speed dial now — Predator: Hunting Grounds is set to arrive on Earth sometime next year for PlayStation 4.

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