Nintendo has always broken boundaries and brought new people into playing games. For example, this happened with the Wii and the DS and the ‘Blue Ocean’ strategy. Input methods became more simple with motion and touch control, and both systems sold over 100 million units. Nintendo also always aimed for a low price point and easy-to-use interfaces on their systems. What would a Switch 2 be like?
The Switch has been a success selling almost 120 million units as of January 2023. The operating system is fast, loads of games are available for it (although many of them are ports), and the unit is quite cheap. However, the hardware is also really old now, and the console is lacking in graphical power. What does Nintendo do now? This article explores what the next steps could be for them, and the possibility of a Switch 2 being announced this year.
Wii U Failure
Back in 2013, the Wii U was released and because of poor marketing, people were confused about whether it was an add-on to the original Wii or a completely new console. The Wii U was Nintendo’s biggest failure since the Virtual Boy, which sold less than one million units. The Wii U sold 13 million units, which was even less than the Gamecube which stands at 22 million units. Additionally, it undersold the Nintendo 64 which managed 32 million units. This article isn’t meant to criticize the Wii U in a malicious way. I had one, and it was great. It was the first HD Nintendo console, and loads of amazing titles were released for the system. The problem was that the tablet controller felt cheap, the interface was so slow, and there were just hardly any games for it. I loved the original Wii, and feel its retro service, the Virtual Console, was better than what Nintendo currently offers. However, the Wii U Virtual Console was nowhere near as full of rare, niche games.
Nintendo can’t repeat the Wii U situation. In those years, from 2013-2017, most Nintendo fans just focused on what was coming out for the 3DS. This led to Nintendo losing a lot of momentum. Everything was running on the Switch, and luckily that worked out for them. The Switch has obviously been a massive success selling over 115 million units and benefiting from the pandemic lockdowns. We were all locked up but at least we had new games coming out on Switch. Nintendo has been in this position before. There’s no obvious answer to the next console. I could list dozens of directions I could see the company going in, but chances are they’ll subvert expectations and do something no one expects.
E3 2023 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
We’re basically in February now, so one month of 2023 has already gone by. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases on May 12th, 2023. There will probably be a Nintendo Direct that devotes a big portion of time to this game. It will almost certainly be Nintendo’s biggest game of 2023. It’s still possible that when it releases an upgraded version of the Switch releases with it, kind of like what happened with the ‘New 3DS’. However, as more time passes and nothing has leaked, this becomes less and less likely. It doesn’t make sense at this point to announce a Switch successor
Then after the Zelda release, E3 will return in June. There was no E3 last year, so this one could be big. Hopefully, Microsoft and Sony attend. I really miss the massive hype that used to build for E3 about a decade and more ago. Anyway, there’s a high chance that Nintendo will reveal new hardware at the time of this event through a Nintendo Direct. There’ll of course be new games announced at this event, but hardware is what could really cause waves. We really know so little about what Nintendo’s next move will be.
IGN claims to have an exclusive source that has given them information that none of the three major console manufacturers will have a physical presence at this year’s E3. If this is true, we could still see digital events from all three big players around the time of the event. It’s disappointing to hear this, as E3 used to be fun to see which of them actually put on a good show, and which had embarrassing moments. Guess this could lead to the end of E3 for good.
Another Hybrid or a Console?
Will Nintendo’s next console be another hybrid system? Going by the success of the Switch it could well be, but what would its key innovation be? They probably can’t just release a more powerful Switch. integrating a virtual reality headset into the system could be an option. The technology is definitely at the point where that could work. Or, could we see a return to a dedicated handheld? That would probably mean Nintendo going down the ‘two pillar’ approach again, which hasn’t been done since the 3DS and Wii U era. The popularity of mobile gaming probably means that that is unlikely.
Or, does Nintendo go for a single-unit home console? Something akin to a PS5, with maybe virtual reality integration, motion controls, and other innovations (or gimmicks). I’d say that this is quite likely. I definitely would be happy with a more simple approach to their next generation as my Switch has had so many problems because of the number of moving parts the system has. Joy-Con drift has been an issue, as well as the dock not detecting the console. Hopefully, we find out what they have planned this year.
Switch 2: What Would a Switch Successor Contain?
The current Switch is severely underpowered. With graphics comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3, it struggles with AAA ports of PS4 and PS5 titles. Taking this into account, its successor has got to be much more powerful than the current system to cope with ports from other consoles in the current generation.
We really don’t know what hardware ideas Nintendo have been working on, and they’ve always been known to surprise fans and those in the industry, so it’s hard to predict what their new system will be like. Going back to a dedicated handheld could be another option. They were the market leaders in that part of the industry for a long, long time. However, with mobile gaming being so dominant Nintendo probably wouldn’t make this move.
A retro emulation device, similar to what the Wii did would be great for hardcore fans. I would love them to make an official emulation device (as long as it’s not subscription-based). I think the most likely thing for Nintendo to do next is to basically release a more powerful, upgraded version of the Switch, but re-brand it as a completely new device. So, basically a completely new hybrid system.
Then there’s the issue of what Nintendo does with its legacy content. The NSO doesn’t offer as much variety as past initiatives like the Wii virtual console. Traditionally Nintendo protects its properties and content, and while that’s sensible of them, at the moment consumers are paying a lot for content that can easily be emulated for free. Hopefully, things get better with Nintendo’s next console/hybrid/handheld.
2023 will see Nintendo lay out its plans for the coming few years (maybe). Whether we see a completely new console or a Switch update with better graphics we still don’t know. Nintendo is a known innovator and they’ll definitely do something that’ll surprise people. It still could be another Wii U situation although at this point we really know nothing about what their next machine or machines will be like.