Nintendo Switch 2 rumours are piling up as experts and leakers agree we are coming to the end of the current Nintendo Switch’s life.
Bad news. The latest report suggests the console has been bumped from its provisional 2024 release date into Q1 2025.
It’s a delay of a just few months, but means the new console will miss all those festive sales this year. It also means Christmas 2024 won’t be as interesting for gamers as we once hoped.
However, there’s plenty of interesting stuff planned for the next Switch according to the leakers and analysts, including its larger 8-inch screen.
To find out more about what we can expect from the Switch 2’s overall design, the Standard spoke to gaming analyst James McWhirter, whose colleague at tech research firm Omdia broke the news about the display.
The Switch 2: An expert’s take
Detailing the new console’s likely dimensions, McWhirter said the larger screen means the Switch 2 could turn out to be the same height as another handheld, the Steam Deck OLED, albeit less bulky. As he explained, it all comes down to aspect ratio.
Like a Steam Deck OLED
“The Switch 2 will be a bigger device, but might not be that much bigger,” he said.
“For example, the Steam Deck OLED has a 7.4-inch display but it’s got a 16:10 aspect ratio. So with the Switch 2, because that’s a 16:9 display it actually makes it about the same height as the Steam Deck OLED, even though it’s eight-inch.”
Both the Switch and the Switch OLED are four inches tall, compared to the 4.6-inch Steam Deck OLED.
The larger size would also enable Nintendo to make improvements elsewhere, McWhirter said. He reckons the Switch 2 will still have controllers that slot into the sides, but Nintendo may look into making them more durable and incorporating analogue triggers.
Hopefully, that means the end of issues like Joy-Con drift, where the controller detects movement even when it isn’t being touched.
An upgrade from digital to analogue triggers, meanwhile, would mean the controllers can sense how much they are being pressed. Think of it like pushing down the accelerator in a car. Proper sensitivity is therefore great for driving games, but we’ve also seen Nintendo use it in platformers and beat-’em-ups on past consoles.
The larger size, combined with reports that it will almost certainly feature a custom Nvidia T239 chip, leads McWhirter to believe that the Switch 2 will require a bigger battery and heftier active cooling.
“There will be more grunt under the hood and we expect it will be more power hungry,” he said of the new console.
New games and backwards compatibility
This in turn will allow the Switch 2 to run more powerful games. This year, McWhirter expects Nintendo will release a new 3D Mario, with Mario Kart 9 trailing close behind.
The good news for regular Switch owners is that Nintendo will bring them along for the ride. Similar to how Sony handled the transition from PS4 to PS5, McWhirter expects that many of the initial Switch 2 releases will be cross-gen titles that can be played on both the new console and its predecessor.
All told, he doesn’t believe Nintendo will rock the boat with the new console – mainly because it doesn’t want to alienate its captive audience of Switch owners. As such, the Switch 2 could be backwards compatible, allowing users to take their library of Switch games with them.
VGC said in July that developers had started receiving special hardware to test out Switch 2 titles and software. This is known as a development kit, and typically looks nothing like the finished product that is released to the general public.
In addition, Microsoft is likely to stick to its promise to release Call of Duty games on Nintendo consoles now that its deal to buy Activision has been approved. So, maybe we’ll see Modern Warfare 3 on the Switch 2.
In one of its secretive showcases last August, Nintendo apparently fired up The Matrix Awakens Unreal Engine 5 tech demo – originally released to illustrate the power of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in 2021. Before you get too excited, bear in mind that doesn’t mean the new Switch will rival those machines in terms of performance.
For its part, Nintendo has vaguely hinted that it could let players access older games. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said in June that the company wants to ensure a “smooth transition” to its next-generation hardware by allowing players to use the same Nintendo account.
In the demonstration in August, Nintendo also showed the new console running an enhanced version of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This could indicate that it will offer next-gen editions of some games in the vein of the PS5.
There are already precedents for that in Nintendo’s historic lineage of handheld devices. McWhirter pointed to the Game Boy Advance (GBA), which could play Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. Despite a radical change in design, its follow-up the Nintendo DS also offered backwards compatibility with GBA games, he said.
What we have heard so far
Last July, VGC cited people in the know as claiming that Nintendo was sticking with the Switch’s hugely successful design formula with a fully portable new device.
A games industry analyst concurred with his own prediction that the next Switch is "likely to be an iteration rather than a revolution”.
Serkan Toto, of Kantan Games, told Gameindustry.biz that while Nintendo may add some "bells and whistles" to the new device, it would be similar to the current Switch.
However, the display of the Switch 2 may initially seem a downgrade in at least one respect. Although it is expected to be bigger, it is likely to use an LCD panel like that of the original Nintendo Switch. The Switch OLED from 2021, on the other hand, has far deeper blacks, higher brightness, and far greater contrast.
Behind closed doors, Nintendo has reportedly demonstrated the new Switch running some impressive tech that is typically reserved for the latest consoles and PCs.
According to VGC, the device packs Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling technology, which allows it to boost a game’s visual resolution using AI, meaning it could possibly upscale full HD to 4K quality. It also has ray-tracing enabled to allow it to produce incredibly realistic lighting effects.
VGC's sources also said the console would use cartridges as well as digital downloads, which could potentially ramp up the cost of Nintendo console games. Similar price hikes have already taken place on Xbox and PS5.
Speaking of which, analyst Serkan Toto suggested the console will be a little more expensive than the current Switch, at $400, which may equate to UK pricing of £349.99-£379.99.
By comparison, a Nintendo Switch OLED costs £309.99 direct from Nintendo today.
When is the Nintendo Switch 2 release date?
We had hoped the Nintendo Switch 2 would be out in 2024. There were plenty of reports at the tail end of 2023, and beginning of 2024, that it would release this year, including analysts cited by Gamesindustry.biz.
If that was the Nintendo plan at one point, it does not appear to be so anymore.
According to Eurogamer, game-makers have been told the console is now coming in Q1 2025.
Why? The clearest strategic justification for missing out on the Christmas sales window is if bringing out the Switch 2 in 2024 would also mean launching it with a relatively weak line-up of games.
Let’s not forget the Wii U launched after the incredibly successful Wii. Nintendo does not want to repeat that part of its history.
Should I buy a Nintendo Switch?
Seeing as Nintendo’s next-gen device could be reasonably close, you may be wondering if it’s still worth buying a Switch for yourself or the kids.
Well, the good news is that the hybrid gaming gadget still has plenty of steam left in the tank. A raft of new Switch games should keep you entertained throughout the rest of the year.
The upcoming releases include Princess Peach Showtime, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD.
You also have three versions of the Switch to choose from: the original Switch, the Switch OLED with a sharper display, and the handheld-only Switch Lite. The last of those would make a great stocking filler for the tykes this Christmas, while older kids and families can still get oodles of entertainment from the other editions.
When will the Nintendo Switch be discontinued?
For its part, Nintendo has confirmed that it will continue to support the Switch with new games through to the end of March 2025.
Due to the immense popularity of the console, it’s safe to say that it will live on beyond that date. After all, the 12.5-year-old Nintendo 3DS handheld is finally set to lose online support in April.