Nintendo is coming off a few rough years. Its hardware sales have been in a steady decline since peaking in 2009. The Wii U is the worst-selling major console in the company’s history. So it’s no surprise that Nintendo has opted to move forward and release its next game console earlier than it had probably planned. After stringing fans along for the better part of a year, Nintendo has finally revealed the device. It’s called the Nintendo Switch, and it’s slated for release in March 2017.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about it, but the reveal trailer above gives us our first look at what to expect. So here, gathered all in one place, is all the information we know about the Nintendo Switch, plus a collection of the rumors that are most likely to be true.
What we know about the Nintendo Switch
1. It’s a console/handheld hybrid
Just as a Eurogamer article from July suggested, the Nintendo Switch is a gaming device that lets you play games on your TV, or on the go. The core unit looks like a tablet, flanked by two removable controllers. When you’re at home, you can detach the controllers and place the tablet into a docking station to play games on your TV. For single-player games, you’ll use both controller parts, either by holding one in each hand, or by attaching them to a bizarre-looking controller frame. For multiplayer games, two players can use a tiny controller each.
On the go, the setup is similar, but the tablet’s screen displays the game. The tablet portion even has a kickstand, so you can set it on a table and lean back to play using the detached controllers.
2. Controller options
The Switch wouldn’t be a Nintendo console without a complicated set of control options. Based on the video, it seems that you can play the Switch in the following ways:
- as a single handheld device
- with the controllers removed from the Switch, and one in each hand
- with the controllers snapped into a controller shell (seen above)
- on a separate Switch controller that looks like a PS4 or Xbox One controller
- with just one of the switch controllers turned to the side, like an NES game pad
It’s unclear if the screen on the Switch is a touchscreen. If so, that could offer more ways to control games and apps. Nintendo could save money by not making it a touchscreen, but in this day and age, it would seem strange for a handheld device with a screen not to be touch-capable.
Nintendo Switch games come on 3DS-like cartridges that click into the top side of the tablet. Presumably you’ll be able to buy all of the games digitally as well, but it’s unclear how much storage the Switch will come with, and whether you’ll be able to upgrade it. It’s pretty safe to assume you will be able to, seeing as previous Nintendo hardware is upgradeable.
Here are all of the games we know are coming to the Switch.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – We already knew the next Zelda game was making its way to the Switch (along with the Wii U), so this isn’t a surprise. But it’s shaping up to be an great looking open-world action game, which should make fans happy. You can read more about the upcoming Zelda game here.
Mario – Who doesn’t love a new 3D Mario game? It’s not surprising that we’ll get one, seeing as the Italian plumber has appeared on all Nintendo consoles, but it’s good to see anyway. We hardly know anything about it, but I’m sure Nintendo will give us more information in the coming months.
Splatoon – Nintendo’s kid-friendly online “shooter” is coming to the Switch. In case you missed it on the Wii U, it’s a team-based game in which players try to coat the entire stage with their color of paint.
Mario Kart 8 – Looks like one of the best games of the Wii U is making the jump to the Switch. Internet sleuths have pointed out that, unlike the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8, the Switch version has King Boo and offers players two item slots instead of one.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – A portable version of Skyrim? Sign me up. It’s unclear whether this is the original game or the remastered edition, but taking an enormous open-world RPG like this on the go could be a game-changer.
NBA 2K17 – Sports fans can get their game on thanks to NBA 2K17, a basketball sim that received high praise from critics and players alike when it launched in September.
Just Dance 2017 – This energetic music game has you cut a rug in time with an eclectic playlist of pop hits. The series tend to be good party games, and a fun way to exercise. As an interesting side-note, this game is also moving to Wii and Wii U, making it one of the only games ever to span three console generations.
Nintendo hasn’t discussed this, but it’s likely that even if you have the Wii U games already, you’ll probably have to buy the games again for the Switch.
4. Third-party support
Speaking of games, Nintendo released a list of developer partners who have signed on to make games for the Switch. It’s a long list, which is promising. But it’s worth noting that the Wii U started life with a number of third-party developers on board as well, and they fled the moment it was clear the Wii U wasn’t going to take off.
Activision Publishing, Inc.
ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co., Ltd.
ATLUS CO., LTD.
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
CAPCOM CO., LTD.
CRI Middleware Co., Ltd.
DeNA Co., Ltd.
Epic Games Inc.
GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC．
Gungho Online Entertainment, Inc.
INTI CREATES CO., LTD.
KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
Maximum Games, LLC
Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Parity Bit Inc.
RAD Game Tools, Inc.
RecoChoku Co., Ltd.
SEGA Games Co., Ltd.
Silicon Studio Corporation
Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd.
Unity Technologies, Inc.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Web Technology Corp
5. Modern design
Most Nintendo hardware is designed to look like a toy. That’s not a dig against it, that’s just the design language the company generally uses.
That’s changing with the Nintendo Switch. This tablet-like console has a sleek modern design, making it look like the marriage of a Wii U GamePad and a PS Vita. In other words, it’s a looker, and a smart evolution for a company whose customers are kids and adults alike.
6. Nintendo accounts will tie into the Switch
Nintendo relatively recently caught up with the competition by creating a unified Nintendo Account that players can access from a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and PCs, as well as the 3DS, Wii U, and Switch. Similar to offerings from Microsoft and Sony, you’ll be able to use this account to purchase games and have them download to your Switch automatically.
This program isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it constitutes a whole new infrastructure for players to purchase and interact with Nintendo content.
7. More info coming January 12
Aside from the reveal video, Nintendo plans to keep quiet about the Switch until January 12, when it will hold a major unveiling event in Tokyo. At the event, Nintendo will announce the console’s price, release date, and the lineup of games currently in development. After that, Nintendo plans to host events in the U.S. and Europe to let media, partners, and potential customers go hands-on with the Switch.
So don’t expect any more official information until then. As for unofficial information, keep on reading.
And now for the rumors
So far, Nintendo hasn’t given us much official information about the Switch. Thankfully, rumors aplenty have been swirling around, many of them from reliable sources. Here are the biggest Switch rumors so far, with our take on how likely it is that they’re true.
1. Rumor: it may be more powerful than a Wii U, less than PS4
Thanks to an NVIDIA blog post, we know the Switch will run on a modified Tegra processor. The question remains about how powerful the device will actually be, but the current standard version of the Tegra chip puts it somewhere between the Wii U and the PlayStation 4 in terms of power.
Nintendo hasn’t tried to compete in terms of hardware power with Sony and Microsoft in many years, so there’s little reason to think the Switch will try to outpace either the Xbox One or PS4 (to say nothing of the Xbox One Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro). What we do know is that it will be powerful enough to run the massive game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so it will have to be at least as powerful as the Wii U.
2. Rumor: no backward compatibility
This would be a bummer for the few diehard fans who bought into the Wii U ecosystem, but many rumors with varying levels of credence say the Switch won’t be backwards compatible with either Wii U or 3DS games.
This rumor is probably true, because there’s no way this single-screen tablet device can display games designed for dual-screen devices like the 3DS and Wii U. It’s simple math!
3. Rumor: the Switch may work with phones, PCs, and even PlayStation 4
Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki tweeted that “Nintendo’s NX may work with smartphones, PCs and even rival consoles such as PlayStation 4.” The source was David Gibson, the head of research at Macquarie Capital Securities.
Likelihood: Low. As far as video game rumors go, you could do worse than listen to a Wall Street Journal reporter on the ground in Tokyo. That said, it’s a no-brainer that Nintendo will let you log into your Nintendo account from a PC or smartphone. Nintendo has already said as much when it announced the Nintendo Account (see above).
That part about the Switch somehow working with rival consoles like the PS4 is a harder pill to swallow. It’s tough to imagine two major console makers playing nice enough together that they’d allow each other’s services on their platforms. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it seems like a stretch.
4. Rumor: big name titles coming close to launch
The website MCV reports that “sources close to Nintendo” have leaked information about first-party games coming to the Nintendo Switch. According to the report, within the first six months of the Switch’s release (March to September 2017), the Switch will get new Zelda, Mario, and Pokémon games.
The Zelda and Mario games are definitely real, though we don’t have release dates for them. As for Pokémon, it’s possible an HD version of Pokémon Sun/Moon could grace the system, seeing as they’re set to launch on Nintendo 3DS this fall. That said, it would more likely be some other take on the Pokémon universe.
As for whether or not this rumor holds water, it’s unclear. What is clear, thanks to the dearth of Wii U games this year, is that Nintendo’s development teams have been hard at work on unannounced games.
5. Rumor: Beyond Good and Evil 2 will come to Switch
We already know a few of the games coming to the Nintendo Switch, but Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently promised that, in addition to Just Dance 2017, the company has “other surprises” in the works for the console that it will announce later. Could we finally see Beyond Good and Evil 2 or a new Rayman? Or, if the Switch is powerful enough, might Ubisoft go all out and release upcoming games like For Honor or Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands on it? We’ll have to wait and see.
6. Rumor: production has begun
DigiTimes reports that Foxconn Electronics, the maker of what seems like every fancy tech gadget these days, has begun “trialling” production of the Nintendo Switch hardware. The manufacturer apparently plans to produce about 10 million Switch units in the first year — which is optimistic, considering that it took the Wii U nearly three years to sell that many.
If true, it sounds like Nintendo fully expects the Switch to be a hit. The company seems to be banking on the success of mobile games like Pokémon GO and the upcoming Super Mario Run to translate into interest for a new game console from Nintendo. Whether the Switch takes off like a rocket or explodes on the launchpad remains to be seen. If it’s the latter (and if this rumor is true), Nintendo could be sitting on those initial 10 million units for quite some time.
7. Rumor: the Switch will cost $450
NintendoLive reports that the UK retailer Tesco briefly posted a listing for the Switch under the title “Nintendo NX Wii U.” The release date was shown as December 12, 2016, which probably means it was a placeholder date, as the Switch will launch in March.
What’s more interesting is that the page listed the price as £349.99, which converts to about $450. That’s a lot of cash for a console, especially considering the PlayStation 4 debuted for $400 three years ago, and was more powerful than the Switch will be, if rumors are to be believed.
Tesco has since removed the page, which suggests it was put up by mistake. And since the listing had a placeholder for the date, it’s likely the price was a placeholder as well. Still, with no official word from Nintendo, we’re left on our own to hypothesize about what might be.