The Nintendo Switch is the success story Nintendo needed after the disastrous Wii U that preceded it. I was always in the mindset that the Switch was something that the Wii U should have been all along, but with the need of the console that was difficult. That’s what makes the Switch so popular. The ability to play anything from small indie titles to full console experiences handheld, wherever you want.

Be that as it may, with all this talk about “next-gen” hardware the past few months. Notably at E3 with Microsoft’s Project Scarlett on the way it got me thinking even with a Pro version of Nintendo’s latest console, can it realistically keep up with Sony’s and Microsoft’s next gen machines. When they get going and will the Switch Revision, assuming it’s true, matter?

The New Consoles

Sony and Microsoft are promising some real power Next Gen. Something that will definitely eat up PS4 and Xbox One and by extension of course the Nintendo Switch. In an interview with Wired, Sony confirmed that the next PlayStation would include a Zen 2 AMD CPU and a custom Navi GPU which is based on Ryzen technology. The new console supports a resolution of upto 8K and has a specially made SSD under the hood. Whilst Microsoft will offer a similar set up, including a Zen 2 CPU and a similar Navi GPU. I won’t go on about tech too much here.

To the Nintendo Switch’s credit, it has done some outrageous numbers in its first couple of years on the market. The system has eclipsed PS4’s all time Japanese sales in about half the time. Impressive, with the PS4 on track for 100 million lifetime sales soon.

The Nintendo Switch is a mid-cycle system so we all gathered that the power of the console would be eclipsed even further and sooner than usual when the new consoles release. You assume the heavily rumoured Nintendo Switch revisions should be out soon. A ‘pro’ and a ‘mini’ are said to come to be in production. I can’t imagine Nintendo making these a great deal more powerful than the Switch that is out now. They wouldn’t want to discriminate people for having the older one. They did this with the 3DS by releasing the New 3DS. The New 3DS had 51 exclusive titles with 30 of them being SNES games from the virtual console and only 4 being available at retail. I don’t see them doing this with the Switch.

The New Games

Considering there will be an even greater gap between power of the Switch and the next-gen hardware. It begs the question “Will publishers and developers release games for the Switch?”. It is already happening now in small doses. Games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 coming to the Switch and Square’s Marvel’s Avengers project missing the system completely. Nothing has been confirmed but one reason Ultimate Alliance 3 even exists at all is probably because the Marvel’s Avengers won’t run on Switch. Marvel probably decided to work with Nintendo on bringing an Avengers style game to the Switch from the ground up. The alternative was probably to release an inferior version. However, that’s just conjecture.

In its current state the only way the Switch will get around the power gap will be to incorporate a streaming service. Similar to what they do in Japan with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Resident Evil 7. Whether this is to have Microsoft’s xCloud on the Switch in some capacity which isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility. Xbox Head, Phil Spencer has said eventually they plan to have Game Pass everywhere. There are a lot of games on Game Pass that will struggle to run natively on Switch so xCloud could be a way round that.

However, another possible solution is to team up with Google and bring the Stadia service to the Switch. People aren’t too hot on Stadia at the minute. The criticisms are aimed at the inability to download games and there being no killer app etc. But I’m sure we’ll talk about Stadia another time. Nintendo are more open than ever to a collaboration and if Google came, Nintendo might listen and I dare say reach an agreement. However, with xCloud and Stadia being new tech you assume that a Switch app would be a while off yet.

Final Summation

The Switch has some games released on it now that most people are surprised even work at all. Games like Skyrim, DOOM, Dark Souls are all on the system and work relatively all right. The biggest surprise is probably The Witcher III. It’s set to be released on the Switch in 2019 on a single 32GB card. With no downloads, that’s crazy and shows there are magicians out there. The less demanding next-gen games probably stand a fighting chance although something like the next Elder Scrolls game is a stretch. Considering Activision would release Call of Duty on a toaster if they could get it to run properly. Activision steer clear of the Switch when it comes to that Call of Duty. I feel with the power that other companies are offering, we may see more publishers slow down third party ports to the Switch in the future.

Assuming the Switch has a console lifespan of at least 5 years, we won’t see a ‘Switch 2’ until 2022 at the earliest. This will be about 2 years deep in the life cycle of the next-gen consoles. The Nintendo Switch will probably start to lose third party support with developers concentrating on the new hardware.

It will be a tough ask, but with Nintendo not really interested in their direct competitors and rarely like to call other companies that. The Switch might be okay. It has a big install base and will probably still be a safe haven for small indie titles. It’s the price point that I’m concerned with. If you can buy a substantially more powerful machine for about $100 more, then why would you buy a Switch in 2020? Especially with the ‘pro’ and ‘mini’ revisions on the way. If the two consoles are real and the ‘pro’ costs more than $300, it could be a rough year or so for the Nintendo Switch. The ‘mini’ will be fine, it will be the 2DS that was released after the 3DS.

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