As the Great NVIDIA Leak continues to be proven right, and speculation about a Nintendo Switch Pro continues to be discussed; I decided to challenge myself with a little mental exercise. What do I want a Switch Pro to be?
This opened Pandora’s box and I figured why not share my thoughts and wishes with the Internet. First, we’ll talk about the NVIDIA leak and the rumors. Then I’ll detail my idea of what I think a Switch Pro should be. Lastly, I’ll make my case for why I think that.
Keep in mind: This is for fun. If I miss something or you have a different perspective, feel free to let me know in the comments. Let’s explore this idea together. So sit those Joy-Cons down, drift on over, and lend me your ear! This is what I think a Nintendo Switch Pro should be.
Rumors Of A Switch Pro
Back in September 2021, a massive database leak from NVIDIA GeForce NOW washed over the internet. It revealed a number of upcoming game releases that were supposedly in the works. Additionally, keen eyes spotted what appears to be a new graphics application programming interface for Switch called NVN2. For those that don’t know, current Switch models utilize a graphics API called NVN. Needless to say, speculation ran rampant. However, many were unsure if the leak could be trusted.
Since then, announcements were made for a lot of the games that were mentioned in the leak. Here’s a list of examples that came true:
- Bayonetta 3
- Chrono Cross Remaster
- Crysis 4
- God of War (PC)
- Kingdom Hearts 4
- Resident Evil 4 Remake
- Street Fighter 6
- … and more!
A lot of people, myself included, have started looking at the NVIDIA leak like it may actually be real. Which made me wonder if that upgraded graphics API for the Switch was real too. Rumors of a Switch Pro continue to surface to this day. Plus, Bloomberg reported in September 2021, that developers were making 4K Switch games. However, Nintendo took to Twitter to refute that report.
Are these rumors from reputable sources? That’s the big question for me. Some have even refuted the rumors, claiming that they’re unsubstantiated. Adding that the proposed graphics hardware would disable backward compatibility. But, to be fair, the jury is still out on that.
Can we accept the official statement from Nintendo that they’re not working on a Switch Pro? The Switch is still selling really well. According to the April 2022 NPD, its lifetime sales surpassed the PS4. This made it the 4th best-selling console of all time. Maybe confirmation of a Switch Pro would slow, or even halt, those sales. I don’t think that’s something Nintendo wants.
Everything is incredibly nebulous and purely speculative. But I’d like to take a moment to imagine what I think a Switch Pro should be. You know, if these leaks and rumors are to be believed.
What I Think A Switch Pro Should Be
I know this is going to sound crazy, but stick with me and hear me out. I think the Switch Pro should be a console-only version of the Switch. Don’t click away just yet! Instead, picture this in your mind’s eye:
A Nintendo Switch that is capable of native 4K at 60 frames-per-second. Maybe games that demand more processing power run at 30 fps, but still at 4K. I’d imagine these to be games like Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter Rise. However, enable 60 fps for those titles at 1080p through performance mode. Essentially matching the Xbox One X in terms of power, but use a solid state hard drive with a SATA connection for modern load speeds. I think this is realistic and saves some room to grow with a “Switch 2”.
Include two USB ports on the front, a 1GB Ethernet port, and HDMI 2.0. Pack in a Switch Pro controller instead of Joy-Cons and sell it at $350 USD. This is essentially a step behind the PS5 and Series X, but Nintendo kind of always is. I think this option is realistic and honestly isn’t anything to sneeze at.
I understand you might not be totally convinced, but allow me to make my case.
Why I Think That
The Switch was built on the concept of it being a handheld/console hybrid. The ability to switch between these two is literally in the namesake of the console. However, when Nintendo announced the Switch Lite, it kind of defeated the purpose of the “Switch” name. If we can make a handheld-only Switch, why not a console-only Switch?
Not only do I think there’s a demand for a console-only Switch, but I think this would maintain the Switch’s trajectory and give it a second wind. The competition is growing and surpassing the Switch. But, in my opinion, it is not enough to shake Nintendo. Additionally, a console-only Switch will allow higher performance while maintaining a lower price. Allow me to expand on these ideas.
Demand for a Switch Pro
A lot of gamers, including myself, never take their Switch anywhere. It remains docked and essentially functions like a home console. A lot of people are working from home now, especially in larger cities. Less people are riding the subway or buses, and I think handheld gaming will start to wane in time. Although, I am aware that people play handheld games on the couch or in bed. Not to mention, Animal Crossing exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Who knows if people were playing on docked Switches, in handheld mode, or on Switch Lites. But I figured I’d mention it, just to play Devil’s advocate.
Additionally, a lot of companies are entering the handheld market in the midst of the pandemic. So I could totally be wrong here. However, I still think a lot of gamers are currently using their Switch like a home console anyway. And the portable aspects of the Switch are holding back its performance.
With greater power comes greater power consumption. The more pixels and frames you render, the more you eat away at battery life. Also, heat will always be an issue, and cooling a handheld device is more difficult than a console. Even in a dock. Especially when you use more powerful hardware. Personally, I think Nintendo has already found a good balance of power and battery life with the red-box Switch and the Switch OLED. Instead of trying to balance power and portability. Why not take off the constraints that come with a handheld form factor?
Making a console-only Switch would help achieve the power that some of the already established audience craves. But I think it will also bring in people that have yet to buy a Switch. The section of the audience that doesn’t really care for handheld gaming and also wants modern performance. They may be a minority, but that might be all that’s left. So many people already own a Switch, but there are still hold-outs. I think Nintendo enthusiasts would buy it and the remaining hold-outs will finally succumb to Nintendo’s offerings. You can only resist the allure of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for so long, my friends.
Despite other handhelds achieving higher performance, I don’t think it’s as great as we all hoped. There are a lot of options on the market, but none with the market share that Steam Deck has. So we’ll focus on them for comparison.
The Steam Deck’s screen has a max resolution of 800p. This means that although it can render more than that, it downscales to meet the screen’s resolution cap. 800p is still an increase over the Switch, and this results in a sharper image. However, it’s not a large leap in resolution. Additionally, this likely affects battery life. But, to be fair, one could choose to render games at 720p, and gain back any losses. So the Steam Deck wins that battle. Particularly for its flexibility.
Plus, when docked, the Steam Deck is capable of higher resolutions. We see this same feature with the Switch. Most games on Switch, when docked, get a bump to 900p or 1080p. However, the Steam Deck is definitely more capable than the Switch in this area. But it’s still not outputting 4K resolutions on anything but simpler games. Not without an external GPU, that is.
When it comes to form factor, I’ve seen complaints that the Steam Deck is too large. The size of the Steam Deck likely comes down to the balance of space for components and room for ventilation. This is an area where I think the Switch has the Steam Deck beat as a handheld. The Switch isn’t too large, but it’s not tiny by any means. Plus, it’s able to cool itself fairly well. Which helps it maintain its long-term battery health.
Yes, it renders at 720p, but for the screen size, the pixel density is kind of perfect. Additionally, it saves on short-term battery life. This is another area where the OLED outperforms the Steam Deck. Games look great on the OLED screen and the balance of performance to battery consumption is handled quite well.
What stinks is docking the Switch and only getting a resolution boost. I think most Switch owners want 60 frames per second on games like Breath of the Wild, Kirby and The Forgotten Land, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Xenoblade Chronicles, etc. But would they want to sacrifice battery life to achieve that? I don’t think so.
In terms of console-only competition, I don’t think Nintendo even wants to try to compete with Sony or Microsoft. I think Nintendo knows they have franchises that fans crave, so they can be a step behind PlayStation and Xbox without really feeling the pressure. However, their fans still want to see these great franchises in 4K. This is where I think this Xbox One X-mirrored console-only Switch could fit into the picture.
You might say, why would anyone buy a last-generation spec’d console in 2022? Well, the Series S technically has a weaker GPU than the Xbox One X. However, it has a better CPU and an m.2 SSD that enables it to load games quicker. But I have to mention that games often appear much sharper on Xbox One X when compared with Series S. I think charging $50 more than the Series S for a more powerful console with a comparable SATA-connected SSD, would make a lot of sense.
Plus, it would highlight the needs of the customer. Do you want a $350 portable console with weaker performance? Or do you want a $350 console with modern performance?
Mirroring the Xbox One X means you could achieve native 4K and provide the option to choose between 4K/30 fps and 60 fps with dynamic resolution scaling. It would also keep manufacturing costs low. Especially considering not having to include an OLED screen and a battery. Additionally, all this would keep the price point low enough to justify the upgrade or bring new people in the door. If people will buy an OLED for a better display panel and a slightly longer battery life, I think they’ll buy a 4K Switch too. This brings me to my next point.
I don’t think Nintendo wants to lose the sales momentum the Switch has. They’re potentially on their way to having the best-selling console of all time. By making a Pro now, it would breathe more life into the Switch’s life span. A Switch 2 would split the sales, and halt the Switch’s trajectory.
Console sales have been on a slight decline as of late. But maybe a console-only Switch Pro would bring the people that still haven’t purchased a Switch into the fold. Plus, Nintendo enthusiasts would likely stampede to get their hands on a console that can display their cherished games in higher fidelity. Especially if the form factor was reminiscent of a GameCube.
Imagine popping a Switch cartridge into a cube-shaped console that runs Breath of the Wild at 4K/30 or 1080p/60. Personally, that sounds so cool! I would love that and I think a lot of people would too. Especially the people that have held out on buying a Switch for the last seven years.
I recognize that for a lot of people, portability will always be synonymous with the Switch. However, I think making a console-only version will bring the best out of the Switch’s library, without having to be concerned about portability. Ditching the screen and battery would save on costs, and enable options for performance that just wouldn’t be viable in a handheld.
I’m also aware that some people may just want Nintendo to make a Switch 2. But I think Nintendo has a bad track record with follow-up consoles to successful ones. N64 did great, but GameCube did alright. Wii sold gangbusters, but the Wii U flopped. The Switch is a resounding success, but… I think you see where I’m going with this.
It’s a weird situation because there’s so much speculation and rumors, but Nintendo denies it all. There’s this incredible demand for 4K Switch games, but Switch, in its current state, continues to outsell Xbox and PlayStation, according to June 2022 NPD results. If I were Nintendo, I wouldn’t roll the dice on a new console just yet. I’d try to keep the Switch train rolling, and I think they have the handheld side of things on lock. Frankly, I think it’s time for a console-only Switch.
But what do you think? What do you want a Switch Pro to be? Let me know in the comments below!