In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Nintendo of America’s President, Mr. Doug Bowser commented on the company’s approach to hardware development. Pointing to the Switch, he squarely mentioned that the company’s goal is to “[redefine] what a console life cycle can look like, and the vibrancy of that overall life cycle with a strong cadence of content.”
If you’ve been keeping up with the Nintendo hardware-related news stream lately, then you’d definitely know that murmurings of an apparent Switch revision, unofficially dubbed the “Switch Pro” by the community, have become intensive. Mentions of it have become so frequent that some fans have grown tired of hearing about it. Reports from Bloomberg have mainly been responsible for adding fuel to the rumor mill, with alleged details of the new model including an enhanced display and more powerful processor that would be able to crank out higher-fidelity visuals. The reports reached their peak just before E3 as voices with “insider knowledge” came forth to say that Nintendo had plans to formally reveal the alleged revision just before E3 2021 so that developers would be able to freely show off their new projects.
Now that E3 2021 has just wrapped up recently, we can say with confidence that this did not happen at all. Not only did it not happen, but there wasn’t even a hint from any studio, or even Nintendo itself, that new-and-improved Switch hardware is on the way. This leads us right back to the rest of Doug Bowser’s comments to The Washington Post.
“Always looking at technology”
Bowser explained that Nintendo is “always looking at technology and how technology can enhance gameplay experience.” However, he also added that the company doesn’t seek to develop new technology just for the “sake” of doing so. Rather, Nintendo wants to “enhance a gameplay experience” when it introduces new technology. Experiments such as Nintendo Labo, though relatively short-lived, is one example of this. Not to mention the entire hybrid concept of the Nintendo Switch itself has proven to be a big example of Nintendo’s philosophy of producing hardware to introduce new and different ways to play.
Additionally, Mr. Bowser asked a few rhetorical questions about the matter, saying: “…Where do you apply that technology? Do you want to apply it on current existing hardware or platforms, or do you want to wait for the next platform? And then what’s the right gameplay experience with that?” He then mentioned how the company is “always looking at” these sorts of situations and assessing what fits and what doesn’t.
While none of these statements clearly address the matter of a Switch Pro, it does at least give a vague indication of how Nintendo operates when it comes to hardware. A revision is nothing new for the company; it’s released revisions of some home consoles and has done so with just about all of its handhelds. According to the rumors, the Switch’s revision seems to be pointing more towards a mid-gen upgrade similar to that of the New 3DS, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X. But, as those questions from Mr. Bowser seem to indicate, there’s the matter of reviewing if adding in upgrades to existing hardware is worth it or if it’s better saved for the future.
Walking the line
As attractive as the aforementioned mid-gen upgraded systems were, none of them set sales charts particularly on fire. They sold well (save for the Xbox One X which has no hard data), but aside from Nintendo eventually phasing out the original 3DS hardware, these mid-gen models never replaced their weaker counterparts. But, keep in mind that the Switch has now outsold the entire 3DS family, and in record time at that, as it creeps ever closer to the 100 million mark. Thus, at least from a business perspective, Nintendo doesn’t have much reason to release a Switch Pro. It would be nice to have, but it’s not needed for the sake of boosting sales. And, again as mentioned by Bowser, Nintendo doesn’t seem to want to create hardware just because.
Time will ultimately tell as to what the Big N truly wants to do with the future of Switch. A few months ago in another interview, Bowser mentioned that the company would be focusing on the flagship Switch and Switch Lite. Adding that statement to his fresh ones here, it seems like Nintendo’s plan is to keep support rolling in for the system as long as possible. And, the install base is certainly there to support it. But, as next-gen continues to grow and studios continue to adapt, something will eventually have to be done about Switch’s power ceiling.
Maybe that just might be in time for the Switch 2.