Nintendo launched its $200 Switch Lite today, offering would-be players a cheaper and more portable way to buy into its latest console generation.
Trimming $100 off of the console’s pricetag meant cutting some features and, according to The Wall Street Journal, no small amount of negotiation.
Component suppliers speaking to the publication note that Nintendo took an aggressive approach while sourcing parts for its Switch Lite, all in the interest of hitting that $200-or-less price point and keeping the system within reach of the lower end of the console market. In one case, an executive speaking to The WSJ says that it had a months-long back and forth with Nintendo, all over the price of one key Switch component.
Those aggressive price-cutting efforts also saw the company pursue a new battery supplier, something a WSJ source said Nintendo hoped would lower costs by fostering competition between Murata Manufacturing, the new supplier, and TDK Corp, Nintendo’s primary battery supplier.
The Nintendo Switch has always sat on the line between the home console and handheld markets. Early on, the company endeavored to angle the system as a home system that could be made portable when needed, but more recent efforts (like the upcoming launch of new, Switch-exclusive Pokemon games) have seen it lean more and more into the handheld aspect of the Nintendo Switch.
The entirely-portable Switch Lite is a reflection of those shifting attitudes, and while Nintendo has said time and time again that the 3DS serves a separate market, the Switch Lite takes a similar approach as Nintendo’s other dedicated handheld.
Sales of the 3DS have naturally slowed down as the system approaches its ninth year, but Nintendo says that the lower-cost family of handhelds, currently sold for as low as $80, serves as a solid entry point for families looking to pick up their first video game system.
Likewise, at $100 less than a full-sized Switch, Nintendo appears to have a similar approach for the Switch Lite (though Nintendo reiterated after its announcement that the Switch Lite is no 3DS replacement). The system offers an accessible starting point for people who have yet to invest in Nintendo’s current generation of hardware, and one that, like the 3DS, has a strong library of titles already at its back.