After years of persistent rumors about Nintendo’s inevitable follow-up to the wildly successful Switch, new reports suggest the company is using an upscaled Breath of the Wild and other tech demos to show off the hardware’s potential power to select third-party developers.
A new Eurogamer report asserts vaguely that the outlet “understands” demos of a “Switch 2” were shown to developers behind closed doors at last month’s Gamescom convention in Germany. The demo reportedly highlighted a “souped up” version of Switch hit Breath of the Wild running on hardware at the same general power level Nintendo is targeting for its next console (though Eurogamer is quick to tamp down any expectations that any such remastered Breath of the Wild is actually planned for release).
VGC followed up with its own report saying that it could “corroborate [Eurogamer’s information] via our own sources,” including details of a Breath of the Wild demo with “higher framerate and resolution.”
That VGC report also suggests Nintendo has been showing off Epic’s circa-2021 Unreal Engine 5-powered Matrix Awakens demo as an example of the upcoming console’s power. That demo reportedly features graphical effects like ray tracing and Nvidia DLSS upscaling running on Switch 2-level hardware, with “visuals comparable to Sony‘s and Microsoft’s current-gen consoles.”
The new reports follow a tweet from Windows Central’s Jez Corden, who said late last month that “Nintendo maybe showed/maybe discussed the new Switch behind closed doors to select press/devs @ Gamescom.”
A set of press reports from July previously suggested that some developers had already received development kits for the Switch successor. Those reports pointed to a “late 2024” release target for Nintendo’s next console, though Eurogamer now says that “Nintendo is keen to launch the system sooner if possible.”
Earlier reports also indicated that the new console would mimic the Switch’s portable design, which VGC reconfirmed in its latest report. The console will also reportedly still include a cartridge slot to allow for physical game distribution, but it’s still unclear if that slot will accept cartridges designed for the current Switch or if the system will support backward compatibility for digital Switch games.
It’s probably time
While Nintendo remains officially tight-lipped, this summer’s dev kit and demo rumors would definitely line up with plans for a new Nintendo console sometime in 2024. PlayStation 5 development kits were spotted in the wild in late 2019, less than a year before the console’s eventual late 2020 launch. That said, 2019 reports suggesting a “Switch Pro” in development never amounted to anything more than the slightly redesigned Switch OLED in late 2021.
The Switch is now in its seventh year of retail availability without an official price drop, a completely unprecedented situation that highlights the hardware’s consistently strong sales. But that historic retail performance may have already hit its peak; Nintendo’s latest fiscal year annual report noted a 22 percent drop in year-over-year Switch hardware sales, alongside expectations of a further 16.5 percent sales decrease for the current fiscal year.
Even after those decreases, Nintendo expects to sell a significant 15 million Switch units worldwide in the current fiscal year, suggesting the system is far from dead. And Nintendo doesn’t seem to be slowing first-party software support for the console, either; the remainder of 2023 will see Super Mario Wonder, a Super Mario RPG remake, and new games in the more niche Detective Pikachu and WarioWare franchises.
Still, even the most successful consoles tend to last just six or seven years before a successor is launched, a timing trend that has remained remarkably consistent despite some attempts to stretch things out. With the Switch’s seventh anniversary coming next March, expectations for an imminent Switch successor are sure to get even higher as time goes on.
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