Just to clarify: I don’t want to revel in someone’s disappointment. There are valid reasons to look forward to a brand-new Nintendo console and all of the improvements that such a device could bring to upcoming games. But I was very pleased to see that the rumours about an impending “Nintendo Switch Pro” have come to naught on this occasion.
There’s a moral to this story, one which we all need to be aware of in the age of the internet: don’t believe everything you read! Not long ago I talked about how a single Twitter post sent the online Star Trek fandom into a spiral of clickbaity articles promising the return of a major character, and in this case it seems that unspecified, unsourced, anonymous “rumours” led many Nintendo fans and commentators to expect the imminent announcement of a brand-new console.
It’s incredibly easy to start a rumour. Sign up for an account on a popular forum, post your bullshit, claim to have “sources” close to the company or production concerned, and Bob’s your uncle. Rumour started. Watch with glee as the internet goes wild for whatever nonsense you’ve decided to peddle. I can’t count the number of articles I’ve seen that were kicked off by these so-called “leaks,” including about major games like Grand Theft Auto 6, huge films like Star Wars Episode VIII, and many more besides. Practically all of them turned out to be completely wrong, and those few that got something right seem to have done so more by chance than because of anything legitimate.
In short, don’t believe rumours that you read on the internet, especially those which concern the games industry. Even if you read something in the mainstream games press, on a usually-reliable website, or even see something on a YouTube channel with multiple millions of subscribers, it could all be based on nonsense. Check the sources of whatever publication or outlet is reporting these rumours. Where did they get it from? If it’s an “anonymous leak” or the publication refuses to say where the rumour comes from, it should be dismissed out of hand. I’ve said on more than one occasion here on the website that I’d rather not discuss a story that turns out to be true instead of jump in and comment on every non-event sparked by one of these ridiculous anonymous posts.
Obviously the reason we’re talking about all of this is because Nintendo has finally revealed to the world the latest iteration of their Nintendo Switch console, and after months of rumours that a brand-new machine was in the offing, a lot of Nintendo superfans are feeling disappointed.
The Nintendo Switch is barely four years old, having been launched in March 2017. Though early console generations could be relatively short, for the past several generations we’ve seen double that – there were eight years between the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5, for example. It’s not good business sense for Nintendo to launch a completely new console this soon after the Switch’s launch; doing so would leave the millions of players who’ve only just bought one feeling like they made a mistake, and would sour Nintendo’s carefully-constructed brand.
The rumoured Switch Pro was alleged to be a machine which would have had its own exclusive games; titles which wouldn’t work on the original 2017 Switch or the Switch Lite, and this horrible naming confusion would have made the Xbox Series X and Wii U debacles look positively genius by comparison.
So I’m glad that the Switch OLED has turned out to be a bag of nothing; a minor upgrade with a shiny new screen, better stand, and not a lot else to offer. When one of the biggest features Nintendo can brag about in the new device’s marketing is that the dock is a different colour, you know there’s not much worth talking about!
The Switch still has years’ worth of life left in it. It’s not impossible to think it could pass the decade mark and run alongside the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X for the entirety of this generation. Its limited internal hardware will mean that ports of brand-new games will become difficult to impossible, but as game streaming rises to become a big deal in the industry, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to see a “Switch Streaming” app sometime soon that would allow players to stream games to their console that otherwise wouldn’t work. Developing something like that seems like a far better use of Nintendo’s time than making a Switch Pro.
Nintendo is uniquely positioned in the video game marketplace. Not only does the Switch offer Nintendo’s own, generally high-quality titles from Animal Crossing: New Horizons to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it also allows players to take all kinds of games with them on the go. The unique selling point of the console has proven to be wildly popular with gamers of all stripes, and ditching it or mothballing it in favour of a new project would be a wasted opportunity. The Switch has already sold over 85 million units in just four years – and is already hot on the heels of the Wii, which sold just over 100 million. It’s not a stretch to think that the Switch could literally become the best-selling console ever, stealing the crown currently held by the PlayStation 2.
So it’s absolutely appropriate for Nintendo to continue to invest in the Switch. This latest iteration is just that: an iteration. A minor adjustment of the Switch to appeal to new fans and perhaps to convince some folks to upgrade to get the shinier screen. The Switch’s future success will be built on games, though, and I’m sure Nintendo has plenty of ideas in the pipeline there as well.
It’s also worth mentioning the very rocky launch that both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have endured, with shortages of key components leading to far fewer consoles being available. Even now, eight months later, tracking down a console at its recommended retail price is still difficult, and in some parts of the world is completely impossible. Any new Nintendo console would face similar issues, and with the shortage of components not looking like it’s going to ease up any time soon, such a device would have had a rough launch.
I’m sorry if you feel disappointed that there isn’t going to be a new Nintendo console this year, but in my opinion it’s for the best. There are some great positive reasons to stick with the Switch family of systems instead of trying to pre-emptively create something new, and there are plenty of negative reasons that should tell any wannabe-manufacturer that now is not a great time to consider launching new hardware. As I said at the beginning, rumours and leaks don’t mean anything. In 2021, with so much junk flying around online, unless something is outright confirmed by an official source it should always be looked at with a healthy degree of scepticism.
So I think this was the right call by Nintendo, and I hope they plan on sticking with the Switch beyond 2021 as well. There are some great Switch games out already, and I have no doubt that there are many more to come.
The Nintendo Switch and all other properties mentioned above are the copyright of Nintendo. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.