Nintendo has finally gone and killed the rumors around a Nintendo Switch Pro. Or at least rumors that such a console will arrive any time soon. Nintendo officially stated that it has “no plans for launching any other model [of Switch] at this time.”
For around the past 12 months reports, claimed insider information and other rumors painted a picture of Nintendo working on an upgraded Switch console that would offer a larger OLED display, more performance and, most notably, a form of 4K resolution output when docked.
But E3 2021 came and went with a Nintendo Direct and the Switch Pro wasn’t even hinted at. And then the Japanese gaming giant dropped the Nintendo Switch OLED, which is basically the original switch with a 7-inch OLED display and a few extra perks like an improved stand.
The Switch (OLED model) to give it its clunky name, felt like Nintendo blowing a raspberry at all the Switch Pro rumors. And understandably so, as my colleague Marshall Honorof pointed out, Nintendo has basically been pouring water on smouldering Switch Pro rumors for the better part of a year. But still excitement and speculation around the Switch Pro built up; I am as guilty of that as the rest of the gaming and media world.
We also want to clarify that we just announced that Nintendo Switch(OLED Model) will launch in October, 2021, and have no plans for launching any other model at this time. (2/2)July 19, 2021
And even with the Switch OLED reveal, there was still speculation that a Switch Pro may still be in the works. It’s a point of contention, but I’d argue that the rumors bubbling around an upgraded Switch from reliable tipsters added some credence to the idea that a Switch Pro was being worked on.
Maybe Nintendo was working on a so-called Switch Pro but the semiconductor shortage, which has seen the PS5 and Xbox Series X become stupidly hard to buy, may have seen the company shutter its plans and opt for the Switch OLED instead. Or maybe Nintendo is indeed working on an upgraded Switch but it will be the Nintendo Switch 2 and won’t arrive until 2023 at the earliest.
Either way, Nintendo has pretty much sunk Switch Pro rumors for the time being. And that’s a little disappointing.
A switch in expectations
I was initially of two minds about the Nintendo Switch Pro when the rumors first started gathering pace. I have the original Switch and didn’t think it was dramatically lacking in anything.
Sure, the kickstand was flimsy, but I never really used it. The display could be larger but 720p across a 6.2-inch screen was fine. As was the LCD panel, which delivered rather impressive colors and was suitably bright.
The performance of the Switch was never really going to wow in the way Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles do, but that’s not the Switch’s raison d’etre. Rather it was about delivering optimized exclusive games, which it did and continues to do so. I also mostly use my Switch in its handheld mode so wasn’t overly bothered by it outputting at only 1080p, or at time less, on my 4K TV.
But as more games came out or were ported over to the Switch, I started to notice its technical limitations. It’s great to see The Witcher 3 as a portable game, but it doesn’t look anywhere near its best. Equally, games like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity can really chug on the Switch when things get busy.
I also find The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a little fuzzy at 900p when docked. So the prospect of a 4K rendition of one of the best Nintendo Switch games was certainly compelling, given I found myself often just exploring the ruins of Hyrule for hours on end.
As such, the idea of a mid-generation refresh with more power and a co-processor in an upgraded dock to facilitate a form 4K output, if not native 4K, started to appeal to me. And seeing the larger screen on the Switch OLED has made me wish for a Switch with a 7-inch display but also a higher display resolution facilitated by a more powerful chipset.
This has been compounded with the reveal of the Steam Deck, which shows that some pretty impressive gaming power can indeed be packed into a relatively compact handheld device.
Yet instead Nintendo simply came up with the Switch OLED, which adds in a nicer display, improved kickstand, 64GB of onboard storage and not a lot more. Granted, if you’ve not got a Switch the OLED model is the one to get when it arrives October 8. But for current Switch owners the upgrade isn’t compelling enough. And with no Switch Pro coming anytime soon, it looks like many of us will just make do with the original Switch.
That’s not to say I’ll throw my Switch into a cupboard and ignore it; it’s still a wonderful little gaming machine. But I can’t help feeling a pang of disappointment that the Switch Pro is, for all intents and purposes, dead for now.
Nintendo did say “at this time,” which leaves the rumor door open just a slither for a potential Switch Pro further on down the line. And Nintendo has a history of releasing more powerful versions of its consoles as they mature, with the 3DS XL being an example of this.
Equally, maybe this is good news, as perhaps Nintendo’s efforts are better focused on making a wholly new innovative console to capture our attention rather than simply making a better Switch.