The so-called “Nintendo Switch Pro” has been discussed for a long time, although there is no concrete proof of its existence. Certainly, numerous reports and circumstantial evidence suggest that a “Switch Pro” was in development at one point, but smoke does not go up without fire.
It’s been a while since anything more concrete about its fate has emerged. Still, thanks to a Digital Foundry Direct Weekly podcast, we may finally have something to go on. According to John Linneman, citing multiple developers, the “Switch Pro” is “in the works. It appears that a mid-term update for the Nintendo Switch was in the works but was ultimately canceled.
This is interesting because the number of leaks and rumors touting the existence of a “Switch Pro” came to a head roughly a year ago. Since then, we haven’t heard much at all, and the Nintendo Switch is powered by aging hardware with a 2015 Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC. Digital Foundry is highly regarded for its meticulous testing, and the industry is understood to have influential sources of information. For example, Digital Foundry was the first to leak that the Switch would be powered by an Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC and confirmed before launch that clock speeds would differ when docked and undocked.
Nintendo is concerned about another GameCube
Linneman speculates that one reason for the launch cancellation may be that Nintendo is concerned about another GameCube or Wii U-like situation. While both consoles were fun, they faced terrible sales numbers after very successful consoles. The GameCube sold poorly and was then succeeded by one of the most successful consoles of all time, the Wii; from the Wii to the Wii U (selling just over 13 million units) to the Nintendo Switch, the company now seems to only succeed every second generation.
It makes sense that there are some weirdos in Nintendo’s camp; the Switch OLED is a beautiful console with a great screen but doesn’t have much else by way of upgrades. Similarly, Genshin Impact was once announced for the Nintendo Switch in January 2021 and then disappeared without a trace. The developer, Mihoyo, has refuted the cancellation, with the company’s global PR specialist reaffirming in May that it is still committed to releasing. However, it is quite possible that it was developed for the Switch Pro (given that the game is quite resource-intensive). Purely speculative.
Nevertheless, getting a little insight into what is (or isn’t) going on behind closed doors at Nintendo is interesting. Linneman has stated that he does not expect a Switch successor in 2023 and that the current generation console will be Nintendo’s flagship before a successor is. It could be active for another year.