Nintendo Switch – Nintendo’s Switch has hit its midlife crisis, and the revamp isn’t quite what gamers were hoping for
As the years go on, the sheen of just-released video game consoles starts to dull as the machines begin showing their age. What’s needed to keep consumer interest going strong is a refresh, and that’s exactly what consoles often get. The latest to do so is the Nintendo Switch.
Rumors of an expected Switch update — unofficially-officially nicknamed the “Switch Pro” — swirled. In August 2020, Bloomberg reported that Nintendo planned to release an upgraded Switch (plus a slew of new games) the following year.
“The specifications of the new machine have yet to be finalized, though the Kyoto-based company has looked into including more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics,” Bloomberg wrote at the time. In March 2021, the publication followed up on its original report, adding that the Switch upgrade would have a larger OLED screen and the ability to output 4K when docked thanks to a new Nvidia chip. Yet another Bloomberg report in May stated that Nintendo might unveil the new Switch before June’s virtual E3 gaming expo — a prediction that did not come to pass.
The updated Switch that was ultimately announced this July didn’t live up to the rumor hype. Called the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model), the updated console features, well, an OLED screen instead of the current iteration’s LCD screen (essentially, OLED screens deliver deeper blacks and better colors). The screen size is increasing from 6.2 inches to 7 inches, and the internal storage is doubling to 64 gigabytes, but the output is staying at 1080p (aka full-HD). This isn’t the rumored 4K from Bloomberg’s reports. Still, it is a long-overdue refresh for a console that first launched in 2017. But why did gamers expect something more powerful?
During the manufacturing life of game machines, components typically get cheaper and more compact, making it easier for manufacturers to make refreshed consoles slimmer or smaller. Sony, in particular, has continually revised its hardware throughout its life cycle. For example, the Tokyo-based company released a smaller version of the PlayStation 1 in 2000, the PS One, five years after the original console went on sale. Sony also updated the 2000 PS2 with a slimline version in 2004. The PS3 got not one but two slim iterations, with the last dubbed the “super slim” (though its increase in storage capacity was offset by the removal of some of the PS3’s original hardware features, like USB ports).
But Sony reversed that trend when it rolled out the PlayStation 4 Pro in 2016, adding more horsepower to the original PS4 platform with added high-dynamic range (HDR) imaging and 4K support. So rumors that the Nintendo Switch was also getting a “pro” version seemed credible, especially because Nintendo, like Sony, has a history of revising its handhelds (the Nintendo DS got slimmer “Lite” versions and larger “LL” ones, while a more powerful, revised 3DS, called the New Nintendo 3DS, was released in 2016).
It partially explains why, even after the OLED upgrade was announced, some disappointed gamers are still waiting for Nintendo to release its own version of a “Pro” for the Switch.
Nintendo, however, has denied it has a more powerful version in the works, saying on Twitter that, “We also want to clarify that we just announced that Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) will launch in October 2021, and have no plans for launching any other model at this time.”
That’s now, but what about in the future?
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