Demand for the Switch has been high since Nintendo announced a new OLED model back in July. Pre-orders for the new Switch sold out within a few weeks, and the OLED model has received overall glowing reviews, resulting in pretty consistent interest in the months since. Demand for the Switch and Switch Lite was also high last year when people were a bit more desperate for at-home entertainment, but the market’s inability to keep up wasn’t chip-specific back then; manufacturing had generally slowed due to government mandated stay-at-home orders, so retailers weren’t able to fill stock as quickly as they would have liked.
Now Nintendo is facing a perfect storm of market complications that has practically ruined the company’s ability to meet the production goal it set last year. Not only do consumers want the new OLED model, but a steep decline in the global chip supply has forced Nintendo into a bit of a waiting game. As various gift-giving holidays approach in tandem with a record number of retail items out-of-stock, the immediate future isn’t looking particularly bright.
The recent chip crunch has rocked nearly every corner of electronics manufacturing since early this year. Apple has even begun shifting its chip supply away from its iPads to feed demand for the new iPhone 13. The shortage, which is expected to continue through at least mid-2022, has turned the tech and automotive industries into unanticipated allies, as both are struggling with complicated supply chain issues (and, as a byproduct, mass consumer disappointment).
The Switch, Switch Lite, and OLED model all contain the Tegra XI Mariko processor, which will reportedly no longer be produced after this year. Nintendo had the opportunity to swap in a new chip when it came out with the OLED model, but the latest edition’s internals remained the same as those of its predecessors, raising questions about the beloved handheld’s future. Many Nintendo enthusiasts are continuing to hold out hope for a 4k-compatible “pro” Switch model, which would require the video game company to pivot toward a different processor.
Until then, the Switch will likely join the ranks of other gaming consoles (like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5) that have been tough to obtain this year.
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