The first quarter of 2021 will see the release of a new and improved model of Nintendo Switch, according to Taipei newspaper Economic Daily News (via VGC). Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but it’s the latest in a series of indications that Nintendo plans to eventually release a new Switch model.
The paper cites a variety of manufacturing sources, which would need to know about such a system well in advance of its launch in order to get it produced and onto store shelves. In terms of specific improvements, only a few details are shared, including enhancements to “interactivity”–which is exceedingly vague and could mean any number of things–and a better display.
To date, Nintendo has released one significant revision to the Switch in the form of the Switch Lite, which stripped out the ability to dock the system with a TV and was sold for a lower price. That arrived in 2019, as did a much more subtle improvement to the standard Switch, which received an improved battery. But the latter was a small refinement to the existing Switch that simply replaced the existing model at the same price; if you didn’t know about the change, you likely would have never even been aware that one was made.
There have been multiple indications in recent years that Nintendo intends to release a higher-end Switch model, which some have taken to calling the Switch Pro. The Wall Street Journal reported in early 2019 that two new models would come out that year, one of which was a cheaper model (what turned out to be the Switch Lite) and an “enhanced” system meant for “avid” gamers.
Nikkei subsequently reported that work on a “next-generation” Switch would begin following the release of what became the Switch Lite. It was unclear if that meant a full-on successor to Switch or something more akin to the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X. Thanks to the Switch’s tremendous success, Nintendo suggested in 2018 that its lifespan could extend beyond the usual 5-6 years.
“When you think about what can be done with the Nintendo Switch as a device that can be taken on the go and that every person has in their hands to play, you realize it has many features not available on any other hardware to date,” Shigeru Miyamoto said during an investors call. “Nintendo also has a system in place whereby the software developers focus on these hardware features in their development efforts for the continuation of the Nintendo Switch business.”
“Up until now, the hardware lifecycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that,” he added.
Earlier this year, Nintendo said it would not release a new Switch model in 2020. That doesn’t preclude something being planned for next year, as this latest report suggests. And as VGC points out, earlier this year, researcher Mike Heskin pointed out that Switch 10.0.0 firmware contained a reference to what might be a new Switch model.
Releasing new hardware is a standard part of Nintendo’s business–you need only look at the 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS, New 3DS XL, 2DS, New 2DS, and New 2DS XL for evidence of that. So it would be more surprising if Nintendo didn’t plan on further revisions of the Switch’s hardware–although the current iterations continue to sell well enough that Nintendo may not feel a tremendous amount of pressure to push something new out the door.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment regarding the new report and will update with anything it shares.
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