The Nintendo Switch console has been incredibly successful. Coming at a time when Nintendo really needed a win, the little hybrid machine has sold incredibly well, recently claiming the title of the 3rd best-selling system of all time. Nintendo has not tried to compete in performance level since the days of the GameCube, instead opting to pursue unconventional experiences and
carve out their own niches in the industry. The Switch’s hybrid home console/portable design has arguably been one of the strongest ideas they have pursued. But with the aging console’s hardware apparently approaching its natural twilight, the question of where Nintendo should go next is on the minds of many gaming enthusiasts. This article will express a few opinions and baseless speculation of what Nintendo’s next hardware evolution should look like.
Nintendo may very well make an out-of-left-field decision (as they are known to do) and go in an entirely different direction, but this article is going to assume that the next console will be a direct successor to the Switch that retains and improves on its core strengths. And not just as a new mid-gen revision of the base Switch with exclusive games and features (like Game Boy Color, DSi, New Nintendo 3DS, or hypothetical Switch Pro). This is referring to a full generational successor, like the leap from NES to SNES. Along those lines, let’s just call it the “Super Switch” from here on out to make things easy.
Retain the Hybrid Form
This one should be obvious, but the Super Switch will need to retain the hybrid nature of the original. Being able to “switch” so seamlessly was a huge factor in the success of the original. In phasing out the 3DS, Nintendo has effectively consolidated their home console and portable markets into one. Importantly, the Switch was not trying to create any kind of gimmick or brand- new way to play, like they had tried to do with the Wii and Wii U. The Switch was just a little machine that could play games in traditional, button-and-stick ways (along with some gyro-based motion controls). The appeal was in how flexible it made the experience of playing those games. You could play your Switch on the couch without hogging the TV, bring it with you while traveling, or solve a Shrine in Zelda while taking a bathroom break at work. The Switch’s relatively low price and unique form factor is not only appealing to more casual gamers looking for a starter console but is also commonly used as a supplemental console for those who mainly play on a beefier console or PC rig. Many use the more powerful machines for AAA games and enjoy the Switch for less demanding indie games and Nintendo exclusives, with the option to bring them on the go. Removing the portability would be a massive mistake and place Nintendo back in direct competition with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, which they have proven ill-suited for in recent generations.
The one thing most fans are clamoring for is more power. The Switch has been home to some great looking games. But let’s be honest: it’s always been a bit of a potato. Making beautiful games requires that developers work around the system’s limitations and leverage efficient programming and effective art style. Multi-console ports often suffer, since they are usually built for more powerful hardware and need to cut a lot of corners to scale down for the little tablet. And it becomes glaringly obvious when games are poorly scaled or optimized for the system, like the recently released Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. Valve’s Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC, has proven that it’s possible to fit respectable specs into a portable form factor, with the cheapest edition coming in at a reasonable $400 (albeit without an included dock). The Super Switch would likely need to find a comparable level of performance to remain competitive in today’s market and retain third-party support. Making the OLED screen a standard feature and maintaining crisper resolution could make Nintendo games look better than ever and would open up some more options that we will get into later.
Better Operating System
When the Switch first launched, many assumed that the barebones operating system was just a basic starting point that would get some substantial feature updates over time. Disappointingly, major updates were few and far between. There have been a few noteworthy additions, such as controller remapping and a folder system, but they were implemented in the typical limited, Monkey's Paw way that Nintendo tends to do things. And highly requested features like custom
menu themes or background music for the eShop never came at all. Bluetooth support for audio devices inexplicably came years after the console’s launch. The Switch’s OS gets the job done, but only barely. The Super Switch OS should build on and flesh out all of the Switch’s current features, making sure that it is a more complete and polished experience at launch. More processing power and memory to play with could give extra breathing room for cosmetic and quality of life features built into the OS.
Come back to read our next blog where we will go into other features we would like to see on the next Nintendo Switch!