Like most companies, Nintendo is no stranger to the art of keeping high-profile secrets. Yet, it seems as if the whole entertainment world is clamouring for it to show its hand when it comes to the Switch’s long-rumoured successor.
In an interview with Inverse, Nintendo America President, Doug Bowser was quizzed about a variety of topics, but particularly about how Nintendo will handle the transition from the Switch to the next platform. Interestingly, Bowser did have an answer.
Tides of change
In a rather gutsy move, Inverse did reference the rumoured reports that Nintendo has already shown off the Switch’s successor a few months ago at Gamescom 2023.
Continuing with their question, the outlet asked: “As we have discussed, the Switch has had a long lifespan and a huge install base. How—when you consider the idea of a successor to the Switch—do you think about helping those people who are on the console transfer to the next platform while reassuring them that the content and investment in the Switch will somehow transfer to its successor?”
Bowser’s answer presented the usual level of ‘dodge’ and ‘roll’ that he and other Nintendo executives have shown in the past when questioned about the next platform. That said, he did at least hint at what could be taken as a big part of the company’s potential Switch 2 strategy.
While he immediately refused to acknowledge “on the rumours that are out there,” he did bring up the advent of the Nintendo Account system as playing a big role in helping with the transition to the next platform. “In the past, every device we transitioned to had a whole new account system. Creating the Nintendo Account will allow us to communicate with our players if and when we make a transition to a new platform, to help ease that process or transition,” said Bowser.
This detail echoes comments made in the recent past where Nintendo President, Shuntaro Furukawa confirmed that the Nintendo Account framework is being applied into its future plans. However, Bowser’s answer didn’t simply stop there. He shared an even more important detail:
Our goal is to minimize the dip you typically see in the last year of one cycle and the beginning of another.
This one line from Bowser indicates that Nintendo wants to ‘strike while the iron is hot’, as it be. That is to say, it seems to be setting up to move on from the Switch at a time before sales activity on the system drops to critical levels.
Setting up the Switch 2 launch strategy
When looking back at the last few generations of Nintendo hardware, the “dip” that Bowser mentioned is no joke. Since the days of the N64, third-party support on Nintendo’s home consoles has been rather lacklustre when compared to that of the other systems. Of course, games from big publishers drive a lot of the activity on those other systems, arguably to an even greater degree than their first-party options. Nintendo’s hardware has operated in an opposite way.
With that being the case, the GameCube and Wii U primarily saw great declines coming towards the end of their lifecycles, as first-party releases slowed down in preparation for the succeeding systems. The Wii had a better run overall, but it’s a bit of a wild card.
Thus, it seems that Nintendo is poised to try its best to make sure that the Switch doesn’t suffer from the same severe lapse in activity. This is no easy feat and one that Nintendo has arguably never really pulled off in the home console space, at least not smoothly.
So, what does this mean for the timing of the Switch’s successor? Well, sales of the Switch have already began to slow, not by a huge amount, but still noticeably.
That ‘prime time’ for the arrival of its next system is looking more and more likely to be somewhere in 2024, certainly more probable in the last quarter of the year. Of course, Nintendo still won’t say when.
Will it truly drag out the pretence of acting as if the next system doesn’t exist all the way into the middle point of next year? Well, the Switch was revealed in October 2016 and launched in March 2017; a six month period. In other words, let’s see what happens in Summer 2024.