When the next line of the Nintendo Switch was announced to the world it was kind of disappointing. It made some definite improvements for anyone that likes to play their console as a mobile device, but it lacked that true upgrade feel that everyone knows the Switch needs to be considered a modern console. As we move further into this next generation with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S it feels like the Switch is just being left behind. However, it only feels like that if we assume this is the only update the Nintendo Switch will be receiving.
Rumors are to always be taken with grains of salt, but most of the rumors leading up to the next Switch was that it would be a more powerful device. This Switch is in every way, except the screen and speakers, not a more powerful device. It won’t run games any differently, as confirmed by Verge, and Wired confirmed that the controllers weren’t much sturdier. Is it an upgrade? For anyone that wants to play it as a mobile device, yes. However, it’s impossible to sell anyone that already owns a Switch as this being an upgrade to their current one.
That’s probably because this isn’t the new Switch that we kept hearing rumors about. If we look at how Nintendo has handled a lot of their mobile devices in the past, especially the 3DS and DS, we’ll notice that they’re no strangers to releasing multiple updates within a mobile console’s lifespan. The Switch may be considered a home console first, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t receive any updates to it. Nintendo is going to take any chance to sell people on a new console of some kind. Especially one that’s been as successful as the Switch has.
So what about those rumors we kept hearing about a new more powerful Switch? Most likely it’s still in development. Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser told the Washington Post that they don’t want to just release a console for the sake of technology. They want to “improve the gameplay” experience. In other words, until they themselves start making games that need to utilize that 4K resolution with the latest specs they don’t feel the need to release a Switch that can do that.
“We are always looking at technology and how technology can enhance gameplay experiences. It’s not technology for technology’s sake,” Bowser tells The Washington Post. “It’s how specifically can technology enhance a gameplay experience. And then where do you apply that technology? Do you want to apply it on current existing hardware or platforms, or do you want to wait for the next platform? And then what’s the right gameplay experience with that? There’s a host of factors that goes into it, and it’s something we’re always looking at.”
We’ve also seen reporters like Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat saying that the timeline of a Switch upgrade didn’t match up with 2021. Grubb himself said he heard 2022 as the timeframe for when the more powerful Switch could be released, but since he’s not officially reporting it let’s not take that as more than a guestimation.
I still have only ever personally heard 2022 for a Switch Pro. And if that still happens, I'll continue to speculate that will have 4K output with a significantly more efficient chip with DLSS.
Anyone think this is the last Switch from the company that released 6 3DS models? https://t.co/TuJJGucDdc
— Jeff Grubb (@JeffGrubb) July 6, 2021
What all of this information does tell us though is that a new more powerful Switch could absolutely still be in development. For the sake of Nintendo, we should hope one is because the current Switch just isn’t powerful enough to compete with modern-day hardware. Forget the 4K resolution for a second and focus on the chip that runs the console. From the day the Switch launched there have been complaints of games having inconsistent framerates and not being powerful enough to run some of the more elaborate games on it. This hasn’t been too much of a problem for the Switch yet, but third-party games are going to start shifting development to focus on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. If the Switch wants to continue having third-party support it will need more powerful hardware that can support running these newer games. Otherwise, they’re going to run out of games they can feasibly port to the console. The Switch needs a power upgrade desperately.
Lucky for fans of Nintendo a lot of signs point to the Nintendo Switch (OLED model) not being the final Switch. If anything their history of releasing multiple models of mobile devices in the past tells us that we’ll be getting plenty of Switches to choose from. Technically, the OLED model is actually the fourth Switch. The first update to the Switch happened in 2019 to address battery life problems. There is also the Switch Lite for players who want to experience the Switch as only a portable console. We are not done with updates, not by a long shot.