Opinion: Why the Nintendo Switch OLED model isn’t the ‘Pro’ you wanted

Today, Nintendo finally took the wraps off an upgraded version of the Nintendo Switch console. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the “Nintendo Switch Pro” many gamers hoped for. Instead, the Nintendo Switch OLED model has a few notable upgrades but is hardly the Pro-level version we expected.

Nintendo fans are understandably a bit miffed. They wanted 4K support, and Nintendo didn’t deliver. They wanted faster processing, which also didn’t happen. Bluetooth audio, a simplified chat system, and significantly more internal storage were also on the wishlist, and they didn’t come to be.

If you only looked at what Nintendo didn’t add, you’d likely think the company is out of its mind. But when you stop thinking about the what-ifs and only look at what Nintendo did include with the Nintendo Switch OLED model, you can easily see the company’s strategy.

All in all, Nintendo really only updated five things with the OLED model as compared to the regular Nintendo Switch:

Other than a few other aesthetic differences, that list is what separates the regular ol’ Switch from the fancy new Nintendo Switch OLED model. It’s pretty obvious to see what Nintendo is doing here: it is primarily focusing on gamers who take their Switch off the dock and play in handheld mode. Aside from the Ethernet port, the major changes here are things mobile users will appreciate the most.

This strategy makes sense. Even if Nintendo could bring the Switch to support an 8K docked resolution with enhanced graphics and speeds, it would never be able to fully compete with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Nintendo consoles have never been about raw power anyway. Still, the Switch’s form factor immediately negates any attempt to compete on that level.

Instead, Nintendo is focusing on the one major thing that the Switch can do that a PS5/XBSX can’t, which is to go mobile. That’s why this is the Nintendo Switch OLED model and not the Nintendo Switch Pro. The term “OLED” is in the name to specifically appeal to gamers who prioritize the Switch’s handheld mode. Likewise for the new kickstand and enhanced audio. The nominal increase in storage is basically a throwaway upgrade since 64GB is still a paltry amount, and the Ethernet port is a nice gesture. Still, it should have come with the original Switch anyway.

In other words, the Switch OLED model is for mobile gamers only. TV gamers need not apply.

Does this mean there won’t be a Switch Pro?

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Sony and Microsoft have both updated past consoles multiple times. The PlayStation 4 had an original version, a Slim version, and a Pro version before the PS5 came out. As such, it’s not completely out of the question that Nintendo could follow suit and launch a Nintendo Switch Pro in 2022 or 2023.

But now that the Nintendo Switch OLED model exists, we’re skeptical a Pro model would ever come to be. Just look at the numbers: the Nintendo Switch is already the company’s second-best-selling home console of all time, behind only the Nintendo Wii. It did that without releasing a new version (aside from the nominally upgraded model that came out in August 2019). Now that it has the OLED model, we expect Nintendo to ride the continuing sales wave and save any major upgrades for the inevitable Nintendo Switch 2 (or, as I hope it to be called, the Super Nintendo Switch).

With the Switch, Nintendo has video game gold. Even after four years on shelves, it can still be challenging to find a console for sale at its list price of $299. The company feels confident in taking its sweet time to release the major game titles we all want (Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Prime 4, etc.) and has essentially paid the PS5 and XBSX no mind since 2020. Just look at how Nintendo launched the Switch OLED model: it posted a tweet! No press conference, no livestream, but a brief tweet to say, “Oh yeah, we’ve got this new version of the Switch coming out, in case anyone’s interested.”

The bottom line here is that Nintendo doesn’t need to release a Switch Pro. Why bother putting in the money and creating a next-level version of the console when people are still buying the old one to the point of supply deficiency? You might think Nintendo is crazy not to give its fans what they want, but you’ve gotta admit that it doesn’t seem to matter.