Nintendo recently held their 80th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders in early July, and among the topics during the Q&A, an investor had asked about plans regarding their next video game console and pushing the limits of gaming hardware beyond being displayed on a TV screen. Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa provided a statement that sheds light on what people may expect going forward:
"Our current generation game system, Nintendo Switch, has entered its fourth year since launch, but its momentum is increasing. We believe there are two factors behind this. First is the existence of two hardware configurations with different characteristics, in Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The second factor is that Nintendo's development resources are concentrated on developing content for a single platform, Nintendo Switch. We want to extend the life cycle of Nintendo Switch while maximizing such advantages."
With next generation hardware on the horizon from Microsoft and Sony in the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, it would be without question that while the Nintendo Switch has been a very hot commodity the last several years (its unit sales out pacing not only the Wii U at rapid speed, but also outselling the PS4 in Japan in 2019), it'd be hard to believe that the hybrid console's limitations will maintain pace come this holiday season and beyond. The Switch is indeed a winning formula, and while many of its ports are strong spirited efforts, third party games designed to run on the sophisticated specs packing the PS5 and Series X aren't likely to be crunched onto Nintendo's device.
Since the release of the Switch, rumor mills had been spinning constantly about a potential mid-gen upgrade (a "Switch Pro", so to speak), but nothing ever came to fruition. Likely due to the fact that the Switch is essentially mid-generation update of the Wii U, Nintendo remained silent on the matter until recently. Adding onto that same question, Senior Executive Officer Ko Shiota talked about how the prospects of the Switch-style hybrid console is a future Nintendo may intend to stick with and improve upon.
"In addition to the performance aspects (higher technical specifications), Nintendo's dedicated video game platforms are developed with a focus on providing a comfortable environment for consumers to play fun software. From the perspective of playing with the image displayed on a TV, we believe that because consumers can play Nintendo Switch on a TV or the game console screen itself, it has greatly increased the opportunities for gameplay in various scenes in their lives, compared to previous consoles. Through Nintendo Switch, we've made many discoveries about where a dedicated video game platform can fit into a consumer's daily life. We see scenes on social media of children and their families sitting around a game console to play, which gives us a renewed sense of the value of our dedicated video game platform. We will utilize these experiences in carefully considering the form our future game consoles will take."
I take those comments to believe that the odds of Nintendo making another conventional console again are slimming, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I know that gamers spent several years hoping Nintendo would make a traditional console with beefy specs that rivaled the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but the Switch itself, while it has some flaws, is something that works in theory and practice. Bear in mind, the Nintendo Switch was a consumer heavy hitter that was powered by Tegra X2 chips. Manufacturing on a new hybrid console with a modern chip set by 2020 standards and beyond is something that could have great implications. When this will happen? I don't think it will be in 2021, as I don't think Nintendo will jeopardize sales of the Switch in the fiscal year, so 2022 is a more reasonable time table to expect next generation hardware.
Would you prefer a more traditional home console from Nintendo? Or does a more powerful Switch sound more desirable?