We gathered everything we know (or deduct) from the new Nintendo Switch Pro, the super-vitaminized revision of the hybrid that should arrive early next year to compete with PS5 and Xbox Series X.
It’s an open secret that Nintendo plans to release a Nintendo Switch review next year. It’s commonly referred to as “Nintendo Switch Pro”, although that doesn’t have to be the definitive name (and it probably isn’t).
The fact is that Nintendo has not confirmed it yet, and knowing the company if you think it is going to do it soon, you are likely to be disappointed. At the moment, the only thing we know is that there are reports from various media outlets claiming that Nintendo is working on a new model of Switch.
Yes, it’s true, at the moment it’s just a rumor. But such an important medium, Bloomberg, has corroborated it. And we assure you that their reputation (or that of the journalist Takashi Mochizuki) would not be at stake if they didn’t have reasons to back it up.
What little these sources have dropped is that the new Switch Pro or Switch 2 would have improved image quality, increased processor capacity and even point to 4K graphics. Nothing is certain, but you don’t have to digress much to know that the only aspect that the console really flaws is in its power.
Although it is true that it receives more attention from third parties than its predecessor, Wii U, most games that come out on PCs and Sony and Microsoft consoles do not reach Nintendo. From multiplatform titles that have come out this generation on all three consoles, we can save Mortal Kombat 11, DOOM, The Witcher 3, Dragon Quest XI or The Outer Worlds, as well as some sports games (and sometimes they come in cut-out versions, like FIFA).
The gap will only get bigger when the more powerful PS5 and Xbox Series X are settled. Since Wii 15 years ago, Nintendo has bet on accessibility and different forms of gameplay rather than raw power. We don’t expect that to change… but it is feasible that Nintendo wants to counteract in some way the change in the industry that the arrival of the new generation consoles will bring… especially if it coexists with the portable model Nintendo Switch Lite.
In the absence of official information, the best way to predict how this “intergenerational” leap will be is to look at the company’s past. Although we all think of PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, for Nintendo the clearest precedent is New Nintendo 3DS. This model improved the console, both in hardware (with bigger screens, better 3D effect, and a second stick) and in the processor: it was capable of running exclusive games, and improved performance in others.
This model was launched in February 2015, four years after the original launch of 3DS in 2011. If rumors are true, “Switch Pro” would be launched in early 2021, which means it would come four years after the original Switch (March 2017).
A New Nintendo Switch with minor hardware improvements and more power, which would improve the look of the games and could even run exclusive games, seems the most likely route, and also the one that would make the most sense. It could, at least partially, attract more third party development, and cover the increasingly severe console game droughts, leaving everything else the same.
There is no need to fix what is not broken. In fact, it works great: Nintendo Switch is the best-selling console of 2020, with millionaire hits like Animal Crossing New Horizons, Super Mario 3D All-Stars or Pokémon Sword and Shield. And if Nintendo manages to stabilize the stock to cover the demand, there is no reason to think that it will not continue selling as it has done up to now, even with the new competition.
The reason for its success, apart from its exclusive games, is the ease with which it transforms into a portable console, to leave on the table and play comfortably in bed the last indies, to a desktop console with which to gather friends in a game of Super Mario Party. Get rid of ideas like Switch Pro would be a desktop console, as a counterpoint to Switch Lite, to maximize power. Switch Lite already has a very specific purpose, to fill the gap left by the lineage of Nintendo laptops, from Game Boy to 3DS.
Nor is it that the console is perfect as it is. This redesign should be accompanied by much-needed fixes, such as the Joy-Con drift or storage, which 32 GB is insufficient even to hold entire games, which despite coming in card form, require additional downloads (and you need to buy a separate microSD). A redesign to the operating system, with the possibility of adding folders to the menu to organize your games or an Internet browser, wouldn’t hurt either.
However, what everyone is waiting for are the games. Whether or not “New Nintendo Switch” comes to have exclusive games, you can expect the resolution and frame rate to be improved. Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece… but alas, those tugs.
And is that Bloomberg has also indicated that the new model would be accompanied by a large catalog of games, which would compensate this 2020 so dry. We all think of Zelda Breath of the Wild 2, which would be the most appropriate to release the review of the console, as did the first in 2017. However, the game we should focus on is Monster Hunter Rise. In fact, we would dare to say that the release date (worldwide) of the Capcom game, March 26, is another clue that points to the existence of the console.
Monster Hunter is a monster in every sense. After many years of exclusivity with Nintendo, Monster Hunter World came out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with an air of reboot and selling 16 million units, more than any other Capcom game. But now it has returned to Nintendo, again of exclusive form, and with a delivery that adds new things simultaneously, that gathers much of the seeded thing in World (and at the graphical level also it defends itself very well).
In Japan, Monster Hunter Rise accompanying the launch of “Nintendo Switch 2.0”, even with an exclusive edition of the console (as happened with the New 3DS in 2015 and MH4), would be a real bullet for Nintendo, which would tip the balance in their favor: I buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X / S with hardly any exclusive games to launch, or I go for the New Switch with which I can play the new Monster Hunter?
In the rest of the world, Monster Hunter is not so much a console seller, but judging by the success of the World, we could also get a surprise. And yes, the possibility of Breath of the Wild 2 is there, to round off the release (although we decided that Botw 2 would be released at the end of 2021, which would be a “year of Zelda” with Mario 3D All-Stars style relaunches on the occasion of its 35th anniversary).
And how much could this new Switch cost? It all depends on Nintendo’s strategy, which can be summarized in two options. On the one hand, Switch Pro would replace the current Switch (as happened with New 3DS), so the price should be the same as the current one, 330 euros (perhaps lowering the previous model).
On the other hand, Switch Pro would be an alternative to the current model, which would remain the same, while Switch Pro would raise the price to … ¿399? A higher price would be a very risky move, especially with the tightness of the next-gen prices: 299 in Series S, and 399 in digital PS5. Both options seem equally feasible… although we bet on the second scenario, and now we’ll explain why.
If the release date turns out to be early 2021 (I’d sign up on March 26, MH day, just in case…), production should start now. All that remains to be seen is when Nintendo will announce it. Again, we look to the past: used to long term announcements, Nintendo Switch was announced on October 20, 2016, just five months before its launch. They would expect a similar move this year… but of course, the announcement of a Switch revision in the fall would hurt the sales of this Christmas campaign, giving more room to the competition.
The other option would leave the consumer who buys Switch at Christmas feeling cheated when a review is launched a few months later. If this option is chosen (the console is to be announced in January 2021), the noblest thing, in the eyes of that consumer, is for the Switch Pro to act as a high-end version, and not as a replacement for the original model, which would therefore remain at the same price.
Whatever happens, one thing is clear: Nintendo Switch still has a lot of lashes. We bet that, after a first three spectacular years, this 2020 so rare will be seen in the console as a year of transition: a lot of Animal Crossing and a lot of Super Mario to entertain us until the second stage of the console, with a new redesign and facing a new generation … but with the impulse to start from a base of more than 60 million users, eager for new adventures.