The Switch is Nintendo’s best-selling home console of all time, and widely beloved for its rich library of games—a dramatic turn from the middling Wii U before it. But it’s been over six years since the Switch launched, and fans are getting antsy for Nintendo’s next big thing.
Luckily, it may not be far off. Rumors and reports point to a Switch successor that will pack in more power than the original while maintaining its winning blend of home console and handheld functionality. We’ll call it the Switch 2 for now.
Reports suggest that major game developers have already been shown the new hardware, which—if true—may suggest a not-too-distant release window. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about Nintendo’s next handheld game console, and stay tuned as we will update this story regularly with new details and hopefully future official announcements, too.
What is the Nintendo Switch 2?
Nothing’s official yet, but leaks and reports from major publications point to a more powerful game system that maintains the same convertible approach. Nintendo’s current Switch is essentially a portable console that can be plugged into a dock and played on your TV, although the Switch Lite variant is purely handheld.
Bloomberg reported in May 2023 that display manufacturer Sharp was working on screens for an upcoming handheld console. Sharp has worked with Nintendo before, and Nintendo is by far the biggest player still making portable devices that are purely focused on playing video games—although Sony has a new PlayStation Portal that can play games from a paired PlayStation 5, plus Valve’s Steam Deck is popular amongst PC die-hards.
And Nintendo is clearly thinking about what’s next. In response to a fan question in June 2023, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said, “As for the transition from Nintendo Switch to the next-generation machine, we want to do as much as possible in order to smoothly transition our customers, while utilizing the Nintendo Account.”
When will the Nintendo Switch 2 come out?
Nintendo has yet to officially announce a next-generation Switch, but reports point to a late 2024 release target—which would be about seven-and-a-half years after the original.
A July 2023 report from VGC points to a release target of the second-half of 2024 for new hardware, citing multiple sources familiar with Nintendo’s plans. The report suggests that Nintendo is eager to avoid the types of hardware shortages seen with many past console launches, and the Switch successor is likely to see significant demand, given the popularity of the original.
There’s no indication of pricing, however. The Switch launched for $300 in 2017, with the purely handheld Switch Lite rolling out for $200 in 2019. With some premium enhancements (including a larger, bolder screen), the Nintendo Switch OLED model shipped for $350 in 2021.
The VGC report suggests that Nintendo may use LCD screens instead of OLED panels to keep down costs, but it doesn’t indicate what kind of price point Nintendo is targeting with its next console. Nintendo’s last three console systems have avoided using the latest, cutting-edge tech to keep prices down. Will that hold true again this time around?
How powerful will the Nintendo Switch 2 be?
Continuing the above thread, reports suggest that Nintendo will indeed not try to compete with the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X as the standard-bearers for home consoles and instead deliver a gaming experience with a bit less fidelity. Even so, it sounds like a significant improvement over the Switch.
In September 2023, leaked documents from major game publisher Activision showed that the company had evaluated the hardware in late 2022, ultimately surmising that the Switch successor will have similar power to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware.
While those are 10-year-old home consoles, it still would be a notable step up from what the original Switch can handle. The Switch’s hybrid home-plus-handheld model also means that Nintendo has to keep in mind a slim form factor and battery life expectations, so it’s unlikely that we’d even see a Switch-like device with top-end internals at a reasonable price. VGC also reported that the Switch 2 is expected to keep a cartridge port for physical games.
Eurogamer reported that Nintendo showed off private tech demos for the Switch 2 to developers at the Gamescom conference in August 2023, and that it used an upgraded version of 2017’s hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as a demonstration of the new hardware’s capabilities.
VGC supported that report and added that Nintendo also used Epic Games’ The Matrix Awakens tech demo for Unreal Engine 5, with capabilities like ray tracing (realistic lighting effects) and AI-driven visual upscaling tricks enabled.
That may point to hardware that is actually more capable than the PS4 or Xbox One, even if it doesn’t quite match the benchmarks of the current-gen PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
What games will the Nintendo Switch 2 have?
We don’t have any clear indication of Switch 2 games at this point, but you can bet that we’ll see Nintendo’s tried-and-true franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, and many others in the mix before long.
As mentioned above, Nintendo is reportedly using an upgraded version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to showcase the system’s tech capabilities to developers, but there’s no sense at this point that Nintendo will actually release an enhanced port of the 2017 smash.
But it begs the question of whether the Switch 2 will be backward-compatible with original Switch games, and if so, whether they’ll benefit from the increased power of the new hardware. Imagine if you could pop in your Breath of the Wild cartridge and see a much more lavish rendition, similar to how PC games can scale to match their hardware.
It’s a lot of speculation for now, but for those who followed the development of the original Switch ahead of its release, many of the early leaks and reports proved to be true—and ultimately coalesced into Nintendo’s triumphant return after the Wii U flop.
We’ll follow the Switch 2 story in the coming months as more and more details emerge, so watch this space.
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