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Development kits for Nintendo’s next console are now with key partner studios, with launch planned for next year, sources have told VGC.
According to multiple people with knowledge of Nintendo’s next-gen console plans, the company is likely to release new hardware during the second half of 2024, to ensure that it has ample stock available on day one and to avoid the kind of shortages seen with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Although specific details on the console are being kept closely guarded, those VGC spoke to indicated that the next-gen console would be able to be used in portable mode, similar to the Nintendo Switch.
Two sources VGC spoke to suggested that the console could launch with an LCD screen, instead of the more premium OLED, in order to bring down costs, especially considering the increased storage needed for higher fidelity games. The current Switch comes with just 32GB of internal memory, while many current-gen PlayStation and Xbox games are over 100GB.
Like its predecessor, the new Nintendo console will also accept physical games via a cartridge slot, the sources said.
Other details, such as backwards compatibility support for Switch games (physical and digital), remains unclear. Nintendo has said it wants to convert as many of Switch’s 100m+ userbase as possible to its next system, although some third-party publishers are said to have expressed concern that legacy support for Switch games could negatively affect sales of next-gen titles.
Nintendo did not immediately respond to VGC’s request for comment on this story.
Tokyo-based industry consultant Dr Serkan Toto told VGC that a 2024 console launch would make sense for Nintendo, since it’s projected to see double-digit declines in Switch hardware and software sales this year, after it cleared seven years in the market.
“I would generally say that looking at Nintendo’s financials, it seems clear that it’s time for a new piece of hardware in 2024,” he said. “Hardware is already projected to fall 16.5% year-on-year in the current fiscal, while the minus for software is expected to hit 15.9%.
“The only way to stop these losses from totally ballooning next fiscal is a new device, and the second half of 2024 sounds like a realistic release window to me.”
ReedPop’s head of games B2B, Christopher Dring, told VGC that a 2024 release would fit with Nintendo’s historical trend of launching hardware ‘mid-cycle’ compared to PlayStation and Xbox.
“The original Switch released over three years after PS4 and Xbox One, which proved to be an effective move for Nintendo. A second half 2024 release for Switch 2 would be nearly four years after PS5 and Xbox Series X and S, so we would see a similar ‘mid-cycle’ launch for Nintendo,” he said.
“I’d argue that unlike 2017, Microsoft and Sony‘s consoles still feel relatively new at the moment, partially due to component shortages slowing the roll-out in the first two years, and software delays meaning we’ve not seen too many titles take full advantage of either PS5 or Xbox Series X. So it’s to be seen whether Nintendo will enjoy the same benefit.
“However, the biggest competitor Nintendo faces is itself. Although its core fans are eager for more hardware, its more family-orientated ‘casual’ fans will need more convincing. What will the next Mario Kart offer that they’re currently not getting from the current one, for example?
“Nintendo has struggled to upgrade players in previous generations, so how it approaches things like digital libraries, the Nintendo Account and even backwards compatibility may prove crucial in the next system getting off to a strong start.”
If Nintendo does release the Switch’s successor closer to Christmas, Dring said he’d expect a deeper launch line-up than what we saw with the first Switch, which arrived earlier in its launch year.
“In 2017, Nintendo spread out its releases, with a big game arriving almost every month,” he said. “By the time the Holiday period arrived, the firm had Mario, Zelda, Splatoon and Mario Kart – plus a number of smaller titles like Arms and Xenoblade – to push the console over the crucial Christmas sales window.
“If Nintendo opts for a Q4 release next year, I’d expect the company to have multiple games ready to go for launch.”
In May, Nikkei Asia claimed to have been informed by a source close to Nintendo that work on the company’s next console appears to be going smoothly. “Development seems to be progressing well,” they said. “But a product launch won’t happen before next spring at the earliest.”