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Fans' Hopes And Dreams For A Nintendo Switch Pro Are Crushed

Fans have fervently wondered why Nintendo won't release a Switch Pro. It's no secret that the Switch's graphical capabilities firmly put it behind its competitors in terms of performance, so gamers were thrilled to hear a rumor that Nintendo had started releasing 4K-capable dev kits to developers. However, Nintendo quickly shut down speculation that the kit was related to a Switch Pro model, just as it had previously shut down every bit of speculation about an optimized Switch. Now, fans' wishes for a new Pro version of the Nintendo Switch have been squashed yet again, as new information seems to indicate that Nintendo might not plan to release a refreshed Switch at all.

In 2022, fans got excited, suspecting that a new Switch model would soon be released based on rumors circulating online. However, the new model that was actually released crushed fans' hopes and dreams. Instead of being the graphically updated, sleek version of the Switch gamers longed for, it was a special edition of the same old Switch, this time with "Splatoon" colors splashed along the Joy-Cons. Suddenly, fans felt bamboozled again, just as they had when the Switch OLED had been released.

The OLED model of the Switch, while updating the console's handheld screen, didn't offer any graphical or performance improvements, underwhelming gamers who had longed for something more. Gamers have been relatively patient about the rumored Switch Pro, but that patience can end now. The Switch Pro probably isn't coming, as Nintendo is setting its sights on the next generation.

2023 may not be Nintendo's year

Digital Foundry recently held a Q&A with fans, answering some of their most burning questions about 2022's year in gaming. The DF Direct Weekly retrospective discussed the best and worst games of the year, the future of Digital Foundry as an outlet, and what the Digital Foundry crew thinks is on the way in 2023. The group was clear that they do not expect Nintendo to provide an updated Switch in the new year.

John Lineman shut down fans' hopes that Nintendo would release a Switch Pro in 2023, saying, "I think at one point internally, from what I can understand from talking with different developers, is that there was some sort of mid-generation Switch update planned at one point, and that seems to no longer be happening." Lineman continued, saying that whatever Nintendo does next will likely be its next generation of consoles, not an updated Switch.

Lineman also speculated that Nintendo feels apprehensive about the next transition, as consoles like the Wii U have flopped in the past. "How do you make that transition while keeping that audience happy and making it exciting again?" Lineman asked. Managing expectations and balancing what gamers love about the Switch with new features will be quite the challenge.

The Digital Foundry crew wondered what the new Nintendo console would include, speculating about the features Nintendo could add and what sort of hardware improvements the company should add to the already-successful Switch.

What does a new Nintendo console need?

The Switch wasn't always behind its competitors. Oliver Mackenzie noted that the Switch wasn't behind its competitors when it was originally released in 2017, but in 2023, its hardware will pale compared to systems like the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. This means that the next Nintendo console should have a significant hardware update to compensate for the time that has passed since the Switch's release. Lineman added that the next generation Nintendo console should be able to run PS5 and Xbox Series X|S level games on a portable console "because nobody wants to go back to making bespoke versions of games that are significantly different. ... it has to run modern games."

Now that Nintendo has merged its handheld and console efforts into one system, it should be interesting to see what the next generation after the Switch becomes. Instead of producing a new handheld and console, as it did in the past, Nintendo now has to figure out a way to improve upon the model established with the Switch. As Digital Foundry's crew pointed out, Nintendo has created a new market for a handheld/console hybrid – which Valve might be encroaching on with its Steam Deck. If Nintendo wants to remain at the top of the field it created, it might need to move quickly.

While the Digital Foundry crew doubted that Nintendo would release a new system in 2023, it very well may announce one, giving gamers something to look forward to in the years beyond.