Handheld gaming consoles could be required to have replaceable batteries by 2027, under a new European Union law. Currently available devices like the Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch, and Asus Rog Ally won’t be affected, but any upcoming iterations of the same would be forced to be redesigned in a way that will allow users to remove and replace portable batteries using commercially available tools. First reported by Eurogamer, the Council of the European Union adopted a new regulation that aims to regulate the entire life cycle of batteries, going from production to reuse to recycling, so it remains ‘safe, sustainable, and competitive.’
The regulation ties back to the right-to-repair power for end-users, where instead of having to take a defective battery to a service centre, one could easily replace it at home without having to rely on specialised tools — unless they’re included with the product, free of charge. While it’s true that companies could push back against the regulation, the four-year-long period gives them sufficient time to adapt and redesign their products’ internals so they can house a removable battery. Manufacturers would also be required to include a detailed manual and safety instructions to help users with easy removal. Bear in mind, this only applies to devices sold within the EU and paves the way for zero-emission modes of transportation since ‘batteries are key to the decarbonisation process.’
While the document never explicitly mentioned handheld gaming devices, in a statement to Overkill, an EU source revealed that it will be covered under the same regulation. The proposal might still face heavy opposition from companies who would prefer gatekeeping their services so they can make more money.
For now, it’s unclear when Nintendo will be releasing a successor to the Switch, and if so, whether these proposed rules would affect them. A report in May suggested that the Japanese gaming giant won’t be releasing a new console at least until April 2024. Rumours of a Switch Pro were floating around for a while, though that seems to have died down. Regardless, the need for a new Nintendo gaming system hasn’t been more apparent since The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s release, where the Switch has been struggling to provide smooth framerates.
Meanwhile, the Steam Deck and the Rog Ally are fairly new, with Valve nowhere close to considering a new iteration for the former. Other companies entering the handheld market include Sony PlayStation, which revealed Project Q, a device that lets your stream games from the PS5 console via Remote Play or Wi-Fi. It comes with an 8-inch 1080p LCD screen in the centre, supported on either side by buttons and analogue sticks reminiscent of a DualSense controller.