A new report has suggested that Nintendo will launch a successor to its wildly successful Switch console later this year.
In Gamesindustry.biz’ annual analyst predictions piece for 2024, Dr Serkan Toto, CEO of Tokyo games industry consultancy Kantan Games, takes several (rather explosive) called shots regarding Nintendo’s immediate hardware calendar.
Nintendo, for its part, has had nothing to say about any potential Switch 2 hardware, despite ongoing reports that development kits are already with the company’s most important commercial partners.
“The time is finally here for a Switch successor, even though I can say a ‘Pro’ model actually did exist and certain developers were already working with the dev kit,” Toto writes for GI.biz. “I believe the next hardware will drop (in 2024) for $US400. There is a high chance that games will cost more, too: $US70.”
The Switch is obviously already more than $400 here in Aus, with basic models starting from $469. The OLED model with an upgraded screen starts at $539. At a straight conversion, $US400 comes out just shy of $AU600, though the ol’ Australia Tax would almost certainly drive it up further.
A potential Switch 2 console arriving on shelves between $650-$700 would put it in more direct competition with the Xbox Series X and PS5. Such a machine would be by far the most expensive system Nintendo has ever launched in Australia, not adjusted for inflation. (If you were to adjust for inflation, however, the N64 retains the championship belt — it launched at $399 in 1997, which is close to $700 when adjusted for inflatey, making it still the priciest overall).
And then there’s the games. The $US70 price point has become a favourite as prices spike post-pandemic. A straight conversion puts that around $AU103, which is more or less what we’re already used to at retail. However, stick the Australia Tax on there, and we’re back to $110-120 price points locally. Nintendo has only entered this pricing tier a handful of times throughout the current cost-of-living crisis, but it may be forced to bend to market pressures as it attempts to serve any future hardware.
Toto goes on. “The next system is also likely to be an iteration rather than a revolution. Nintendo might add some bells and whistles to the device, but it will be similar to the current Switch.”
“And because there is Pokémon, and Pokémon is associated with handheld gaming, there is no way on earth Nintendo will drop the portability feature for their next big thing.”
No surprises there; the Switch’s portability has been its greatest asset. Nintendo would, of course, want it to continue. Less clear: the kind of hardware Nintendo might throw at the device. I’ve talked about it before, but Nintendo has always favoured a more conservative approach to hardware selection than its contemporaries. Designer Gunpei Yokoi called this ‘Lateral Thinking With Withered Technology’ — the art of building a machine out of cheap, abundant parts that are well understood to save money, and then wringing every last molecule of performance out of them.
The idea that Nintendo might look to drop a Switch successor this year is also not a surprise. It’s been clear that the Switch has been operating at the limit of its hardware for some time now. When first-party tentpoles are mired in the kind of performance that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet had to endure, it’s ok to admit that the hardware has done its dash.
I will watch with interest to see how close to the target Toto’s Switch 2 predictions actually land.
Image: Nintendo, Kotaku Australia
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