Many Nintendo fans have been eagerly awaiting the reveal of the long-rumored Switch Pro. This alleged device has been leaked many times, and rumors really ramped up over the last few months as The Wall Street Journal reported it would be revealed around E3. A few weeks later, Nintendo has instead revealed the “Nintendo Switch OLED Model,” which is noticeably lacking in extra power or 4K support. So what does this mean for the possibility of Switch Pro and the future of Switch hardware in general? Let’s dig in.
Where did Switch Pro come from?
First of all, it’s important to note that the rumors surrounding this newly-announced console weren’t entirely incorrect. In fact, most of the details were spot on. For months now, Bloomberg and other sources have been saying that Nintendo was working on an upgraded Switch with a 7 inch OLED screen. The model was expected to go into production this summer and launch in October. And all of that is true! Yet the OLED model is most certainly not 4K compatible, despite the rumors. Clearly, something has been lost in communication.
There are a handful of possibilities. Sometimes a bad source simply takes off, as evidenced by the “Star Fox Grand Prix” debacle. The inclusion of 4K may simply be incorrect. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Nintendo truly is looking into 4K compatibility for a future product. If Nintendo is in the early stages of developing a 4K device, that information could have been incorrectly conflated with the more developed OLED model. Following the Bloomberg article last month, FanByte’s Imran Khan teased that some teams already had dev kits. It’s easy to see how wires could be crossed.
It’s also important to remember that not everyone was convinced this hypothetical Switch Pro was ever planned for 2021. VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb and NPD analyst Mat Piscatella have always held that a Switch Pro model was much more likely for 2022. In the wake of the recent announcement, they’ve both reiterated that stance. Niko Partners Senior Analyst Daniel Ahmad has likewise retweeted his March prediction that Switch Pro won’t come until 2022. These are, of course, just unofficial expectations based on what they’ve heard from their sources. Nintendo, as always, is silent on the matter.
The future of Nintendo Switch hardware
Whether or not we get a Switch Pro, it’s likely that the Nintendo Switch OLED model will not be the last iteration of the popular device. Nintendo has repeatedly told investors over the past year that Switch is only about halfway through its life cycle. If that’s an honest representation of their plans, then Switch should still be going strong through 2024 and beyond.
If there’s one thing Nintendo loves to do with its portable devices, it’s releasing many, many iterations. Last generation’s handheld became an entire extended family over the years. 3DS, 2DS, 3DS XL, New Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS XL, and New Nintendo 2DS XL… am I missing any?? I don’t expect that trend to change for Switch. With years to go, we haven’t even seen its final form. Releasing a more powerful model at some point just makes sense, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s coming soon.
The fact is, there’s zero pressure on Nintendo to give Switch a massive upgrade right now, and doing so would be a huge challenge. Nintendo just wrapped up its most profitable year ever with Switch sales shattering every expectation along the way. The company recently told reporters that they’re struggling to keep up with demand. People are buying Switches faster than Nintendo can manufacture them. Take a glance at how much Sony and Microsoft are struggling to keep their new consoles stocked, and then imagine Nintendo attempting that on top of a base model that sold 27 million units last year.
Nintendo Switch is a healthy console with a ton of momentum and years of life ahead of it. There will almost certainly be more iterations in the future, but Nintendo operates on its own timeline. And if and when they finally do decide to give Switch a 4K upgrade, it’s clear the demand for the product will be ravenous. That’s not a bad trump card to hang onto for the future while the base model still dominates on its own.