Friday, March 3, 2023

Nintendo Switch: Six Years and Beyond


As of today, the Nintendo Switch is officially six years old and is entering its seventh year, where this may be a more special date than you think, because so far no Nintendo home console has lived that long without getting a successor. Only the original Game Boy was able to hold itself on the market longer than your usual five to six years, especially if you also count in the Game Boy Color.

Speaking of, by now the Nintendo Switch even has surpassed the success of the beloved 90s handheld(s). With over 122 million units sold it is only behind the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2, where the goal might even to surpass those as well and make the Switch the most successful video game system of all time.

Nintendo has said again and again that the Nintendo Switch won't follow a conventional console lifecycle, where in late 2021 president Furukawa put it around the mid-point (source). This would mean that we shouldn't expect the next Nintendo system before 2025.

Normally, statements like this get dismissed easily, because the company naturally wants people to still buy their current system and not hold their money for a successor. But these were statements for investors and Nintendo seems more reluctant than usual to even talk about future hardware, where there may as well some truth to it that they want the Switch to live as long as possible. It is still selling like hot cakes after all.

There also have been some convincing rumors about a new Nintendo Switch model coming later this year, from an accurate Pokémon leak last month (via It states that they are working on graphic enhancement patches, which means that this model will have more power to it.

And that is really the only major deficit of the Nintendo Switch at the moment: its power. It has been showing its age for a while now, where the dithering present in games like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Bayonetta 3, or Fire Emblem Engage gives it away, or the poor frame rate in many 3rd party titles, even some 1st/2nd party ones, like the remake of Link's Awakening. And they all would profit from some more horse power.

A "New Nintendo Switch" is even what people have already expected when the OLED model came out one and a half years ago. But Nintendo has been iterating the Switch every two years now – first with the Nintendo Switch Lite in 2019 and then the OLED model in 2021. So, that we're getting yet another model in 2023, this time with some better hardware, seems entirely possible.

This would also mean that the Nintendo Switch is going to live for at least two more years. At the beginning of this year this may have seen unrealistic, where it may have felt to some like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is going to be the Switch's swan song, the final masterpiece before Nintendo is moving on. Other major titles, like a new Mario game or Metroid Prime 4, might as well be saved for the next system.

Phendrana Drifts in Metroid Prime Remastered

But then came the recent Nintendo Direct and they've released Metroid Prime Remastered, where the game's physical copy has arrived in Europe today as an anniversary gift, and Retro Studios shows everyone how amazing games can still look on the Switch. Imagine what they could achieve with just some more processing power. And just like that it suddenly doesn't feel any longer like Metroid Prime 4 needs to be on the next system...

Plus, Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime 3 are going to be remastered as well eventually, whether that's done by Retro themselves or some other studios. You would think that this is all happening on the same engine and level of detail, where these games should come out for the Nintendo Switch as well, and not for the next system. Maybe with a new Nintendo Switch model they could look even better, but they still would run on the original. In any case, they won't be throwing out these titles in the next months...

The same would also apply to remakes of Oracle of Ages & Seasons in the same style as Link's Awakening. Of course it would be nice to have them with stable 60FPS on the overworld this time, but it would also feel wrong to have a generational rift between this and Link's Awakening. You would think that they come up with something new for top-down Zelda games on the next system.

And with the Booster Course Pass for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe it also seems more and more likely that they are going to do a second one (more on that next week when wave 4 arrives), where this would put two more years of content to a Nintendo Switch title. But this would add up perfectly if the next Nintendo system weren't to come out before 2025.

So, maybe the Nintendo Switch is here to stay... for now. Happy Birthday in any case!

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