Nintendo Switch 2 Preview: Everything You Need to Know

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Nintendo Switch 2 Preview: Everything You Need to Know
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The Switch is Nintendo’s best-selling home console of all time, and widely beloved for its rich library of games—a dramatic turn from the middling Wii U before it. But it’s been seven years since the Switch launched, and fans are getting antsy for Nintendo’s next big thing.

Luckily, it may not be far off. Rumors and reports point to a Switch successor that will pack in more power than the original while maintaining its winning blend of home console and handheld functionality. We’ll call it the Switch 2 for now.

Reports suggest that major game developers have already been shown the new hardware, which—if true—may suggest a not-too-distant release window. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about Nintendo’s next handheld game console, and stay tuned as we will update this story regularly with new details and hopefully future official announcements, too.

What is the Nintendo Switch 2?

Nothing’s official yet, but leaks and reports from major publications point to a more powerful game system that maintains the same convertible approach. Nintendo’s current Switch is essentially a portable console that can be plugged into a dock and played on your TV, although the Switch Lite variant is purely handheld.

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Bloomberg reported in May 2023 that display manufacturer Sharp was working on screens for an upcoming handheld console. Sharp has worked with Nintendo before, and Nintendo is by far the biggest player still making portable devices that are purely focused on playing video games—although Sony has a new PlayStation Portal that can play games from a paired PlayStation 5, plus Valve’s Steam Deck is popular amongst PC die-hards.

And Nintendo is clearly thinking about what’s next. In response to a fan question in June 2023, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said, “As for the transition from Nintendo Switch to the next-generation machine, we want to do as much as possible in order to smoothly transition our customers, while utilizing the Nintendo Account.”

But for now, Nintendo appears content to focus on the original Switch and hold back details on the next hardware until it’s good and ready. In November, Furukawa said on an earnings call that “rumors are circulating mainly on the internet as if they were public information, but they are inaccurate.”

Interestingly, many developers have admitted to working on Switch 2 games, even if they’re not willing to put their names to it yet. For the 2024 Game Developers Conference (GDC) State of the Game Industry survey (via VGC), released in January 2024, about 8% of the 3,000 respondents admitted that they’re currently working on games for Nintendo’s next console.

That’s about 250 people, but we don’t know what their roles are or how many different studios they work for. Even so, it shouldn’t be surprising, given the rising wave of leaks and reports.

When will the Nintendo Switch 2 come out?

Nintendo has yet to officially announce a next-generation Switch, but reports until recently have consistently pointed to a late 2024 release target—which would be about seven-and-a-half years after the original. Now, however, there’s reporting that suggests an early 2025 launch is more likely.

A July 2023 report from VGC points to a release target of the second half of 2024 for new hardware, citing multiple sources familiar with Nintendo’s plans. The report suggests that Nintendo is eager to avoid the types of hardware shortages seen with many past console launches, and the Switch successor is likely to see significant demand, given the popularity of the original.

In October 2023, a leaker—who WCCF Tech said has previously shared reliable information—claimed that the next-generation Switch is being targeted for a September 24, 2024 release, although they claim that Nintendo has pegged November 3, 2024 is another potential date.

At CES 2024, peripheral maker Altec Lansing announced a new version of the GameShark cheat code software tool called AI Shark, and wrote that the “official launch is planned to coincide with the Nintendo Switch 2 in September 2024.”

Unsurprisingly, this set off some alarms amongst gamers and the gaming press. Altec Lansing gave Digital Trends a more vague “fall 2024” after it inquired, and the company told Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier that they were “just guessing” about the date, in his words. But even industry players think a fall release is now likely.

Adding fuel to the fire is a Nikkei Asia report about Nintendo’s surging stock price, which notes that investors appear to be enticed by “the expected launch of a new video game console following its Nintendo Switch megahit.”

That aforementioned leaker pegs the price point for the Switch 2 at $449 for the base model and $400 for a version that is fully digital without cartridge support. By comparison, the original Switch launched for $300 in 2017, with the purely handheld Switch Lite rolling out for $200 in 2019. With some premium enhancements (including a larger, bolder screen), the Nintendo Switch OLED model shipped for $350 in 2021.

The VGC report suggests that Nintendo may use LCD screens instead of OLED panels to keep down costs, but it doesn’t indicate what kind of price point Nintendo is targeting with its next console. Nintendo’s last three console systems have avoided using the latest, cutting-edge tech to keep prices down. Will that hold true again this time around?

In a Nikkei interview posted in early October 2023 (via VGC), Furukawa affirmed that Nintendo will continue to support the original Switch with new software through at least the fiscal year that ends in March 2025. Quite likely, if the Switch 2 is indeed set to roll out in late 2024, we’ll probably continue to see new Switch games for years to come. But Nintendo itself may shift gears quickly to the new hardware while third-party publishers continue to bet on the Switch’s sizable audience.

In February 2024, reports began surfacing that suggested that the Switch 2 will instead release in Q1 2025 instead of at the end of this year. VGC reported that a Brazilian journalist  Pedro Henrique Lutti Lippe broke the news via a YouTube video, and then Eurogamer reports that it confirmed the shift with developers working on games. Nintendo reportedly told developers to plan for Q1 2025 instead of late this year.

What will the Nintendo Switch 2 look like?

Leaks and rumors have largely pointed to a similar handheld-meets-home-console approach for the Switch 2, but there’s still room for potentially substantial design changes within that kind of model.

A Nintendo patent application, filed in November 2022 but only published publicly in October 2023 (and first reported by Game Rant) points to a dual convertible device that recalls the company’s earlier Nintendo DS and 3DS handhelds.

Image: Nintendo

However, there’s a different angle here—it’s apparently convertible, letting players choose to use the device with a single screen, with two stacked screens, or even to disconnect them and use them separately. Since they’re wirelessly connected, that could potentially open up the possibility of two-player gaming using a single separated piece of hardware.

Of course, a patent application doesn’t mean that Nintendo is definitely going this route for the next-generation Switch. Who knows? Maybe Nintendo is thinking about reviving the sensationally popular DS line. Or maybe it’s just an idea that will never actually be used, like so many tech giant patent applications over the years.

Image: Nintendo

In April 2024, an accessory manufacturer named Mobapad wrote in a blog post that it learned that the Switch 2 will have magnetically-attached Joy-Con controllers, rather than the snap-on controllers of the original Switch. The “magnetic suction” that Mobapad reported could be enabled through electropermanent magnets, Polygon suggests, perhaps with an on-off switch to attach or remove them from the device.

How powerful will the Nintendo Switch 2 be?

Continuing the above thread, reports suggest that Nintendo will indeed not try to compete with the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X as the standard-bearers for home consoles and instead deliver a gaming experience with a bit less fidelity. Even so, it sounds like a significant improvement over the Switch.

In September 2023, leaked documents from major game publisher Activision showed that the company had evaluated the hardware in late 2022, ultimately surmising that the Switch successor will have similar power to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware.

While those are 10-year-old home consoles, it still would be a notable step up from what the original Switch can handle. The Switch’s hybrid home-plus-handheld model also means that Nintendo has to keep in mind a slim form factor and battery life expectations, so it’s unlikely that we’d even see a Switch-like device with top-end internals at a reasonable price. VGC also reported that the Switch 2 is expected to keep a cartridge port for physical games.

Eurogamer reported that Nintendo showed off private tech demos for the Switch 2 to developers at the Gamescom conference in August 2023, and that it used an upgraded version of 2017’s hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as a demonstration of the new hardware’s capabilities.

VGC supported that report and added that Nintendo also used Epic Games’ The Matrix Awakens tech demo for Unreal Engine 5, with capabilities like ray tracing (realistic lighting effects) and AI-driven visual upscaling tricks enabled. Another rumor points to the use of “ray reconstruction,” a less hardware-intensive way of delivering ray tracing effects with the help of AI, via Nvidia’s DLSS 3.5 tech.

All told, this may point to hardware that is actually more capable than the PS4 or Xbox One, even if it doesn’t quite match the benchmarks of the current-gen PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. It could be relatively well equipped in terms of RAM, however, with noted leaker Felipe Lima suggesting that the device with have 12GB onboard—that’s more than the Xbox Series S console at 10GB.

A February 2024 report from Reuters cites a source claiming that the Switch 2 will use a custom Nvidia chip, much like the original Switch hardware did.

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furakawa suggests you shouldn’t believe everything that’s been reported about the Switch successor, however, saying in November 2023 that reports that hardware was demonstrated for developers are “untrue.” But he may just be playing coy until Nintendo is truly ready to show its hand.

According to a January 2024 report from Bloomberg, Omdia analyst Hiroshi Hayase says that Nintendo has picked a sizable 8-inch display for the Switch 2, and the display will use LCD tech as other reports have previously noted. Nintendo declined comment. The current Switch OLED model has a 7-inch screen, so this would be larger than any original Switch device.

Mobapad also points to an 8-inch display, which it says it be upgraded from 720p HD resolution on the original Switch to 1080p Full HD resolution on the successor.

What games will the Nintendo Switch 2 have?

You can bet that we’ll see Nintendo’s tried-and-true franchises like Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, and many others in the mix before long. And there are already rumors circulating about other big games headed to Switch 2.

A leaker called Zippo, who Tom’s Guide describes as having a “reasonable track record” with previous scoops, says that Nintendo is preparing a big new 3D Super Mario game to launch with the Switch 2 in 2024. Will it be a sequel to the brilliant Super Mario Odyssey on Switch or something totally new? We don’t know just yet.

Zippo also claims that Nintendo will debut a new Mario Kart game in 2025 that will reportedly be called Mario Kart X. Wait, “X” as in 10? While Mario Kart 8 was the last big mainline entry on Wii U and then ported to Switch, the mobile game Mario Kart Tour could effectively be called the ninth entry. Zippo describes the new Mario Kart as “one of the most expensive games Nintendo has ever put into production,” so there may be a lot riding on it.

The same leaker previously said that Nintendo’s EPD Tokyo studio is working on a new Donkey Kong game that’s slated for the company’s next console. In September 2023, a leaker and independent journalist who goes by “Necro” Felipe Lima said that the as-yet-unannounced Far Cry 7—the rumored next entry in Ubisoft’s popular open-world shooter series—will release on the Switch successor at the same time as other platforms. Insider Gaming pegs the Far Cry 7 release for fall 2025, so it may be after the Switch 2 is already released.

After Rockstar Games’ recent official reveal of Grand Theft Auto 6, which is currently announced for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S, it begs the question: Will it come to Switch 2, too? And perhaps more pressingly, will the Switch 2 be powerful enough to run it?

There’s no official word for now, of course, and there wouldn’t be until Nintendo actually reveals its next console. But in the meantime, the technical experts at Digital Foundry are dubious that the Switch 2 will have enough power to handle Rockstar’s next big game—at least based on the leaks so far.

“I’d love to say it would happen. I don’t think it will, realistically,” said Digital Foundry founder Richard Leadbetter in a YouTube video (via IGN). “It’s a mobile chipset. We’ve seen a lot of amazing things on the Switch 1. Switch 2 is going to be a lot better, a proper generational leap, and forward-looking in many ways. But the stuff they seem to be rolling out for GTA 6 is possibly beyond that.”

“It seems a step beyond,” he added, “and out of character with what we know about Rockstar’s M.O.”

What about Electronic Arts? EA has been an inconsistent Nintendo platform supporter over the years, so it’s unclear whether the major publisher will embrace the Switch 2 after a half-hearted release strategy on the original Switch.

When asked in January 2024 how it would approach Nintendo’s next console, EA CEO Andrew Wilson had to tiptoe around the question, responding that he would “absolutely not comment on anything that has not been announced or acknowledge it in any way.” But broadly, Eurogamer reports, he said the company is excited for “new platforms” as a way to bring new types of games to even more players.

As mentioned above, Nintendo is reportedly using an upgraded version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to showcase the system’s tech capabilities to developers, but there’s no sense at this point that Nintendo will actually release an enhanced port of the 2017 smash.

But it begs the question of whether the Switch 2 will be backward-compatible with original Switch games, and if so, whether they’ll benefit from the increased power of the new hardware. Imagine if you could pop in your Breath of the Wild cartridge and see a much more lavish rendition, similar to how PC games can scale to match their hardware.

Recent reports shared by Eurogamer in February 2024 suggest that Nintendo will offer just that, letting users play their original Switch games (both physical and digital) in the Switch 2 hardware with enhancements. Developers will reportedly need to update their games to unlock such upgrades, however, which means not every game will necessarily take advantage of the Switch 2’s improved power. Mobapad’s report also suggests backwards compatibility with both physical and digital games.

It’s a lot of speculation for now, but for those who followed the development of the original Switch ahead of its release, many of the early leaks and reports proved to be true—and ultimately coalesced into Nintendo’s triumphant return after the Wii U flop.

We’ll follow the Switch 2 story in the coming months as more and more details emerge, so watch this space.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on September 19, 2023 and last updated on April 29, 2024.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa

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