The Nintendo Switch Pro is rumored to include significantly upgraded hardware, which could make it a requirement to play future games.
The Nintendo Switch Pro still hasn’t been officially announced, but rumors about the upgraded console are reaching a fever pitch. As evidence of the improved Nintendo Switch continues to mount, it’s becoming increasingly likely that gamers will see the console hit store shelves by the end of 2021.
The Nintendo Switch Pro is rumored to include significantly improved hardware, including a more powerful CPU, a GPU from Nvidia, and a 7-inch Samsung OLED screen. According to some reports, the device will even be capable of delivering 4K graphics when plugged into a TV. If these upgrades turn out to be as dramatic as they sound, then Nintendo fans might need to purchase the Switch Pro if they want to keep up with new titles.
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Nintendo has a long history of releasing upgraded versions of its handheld consoles, so the move would hardly be a surprising one. Between the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DSi, and New Nintendo 3DS, there’s quite a bit of evidence that Nintendo expects gamers to replace each of its handhelds at least once. Though all of the aforementioned devices were initially marketed as optional upgrades from their baseline counterparts, Nintendo released games for the Game Boy Color and the New Nintendo 3DS that weren’t backwards compatible with earlier versions of the devices. Gamers hoping to play the newest games had little choice but to buy the new handhelds.
Though the practice might be annoying, it’s slightly easier to stomach when the upgraded handheld consoles are still significantly cheaper than the home consoles being sold by competitors. This might be why Nintendo hasn’t employed this strategy yet with its own home consoles. But since the Switch is both a handheld and a home console, Nintendo may use this opportunity to see if the upgrade cycle can be replicated with its more expensive devices.
The Price Is…Fine
It’s hard to say exactly how expensive the Nintendo Switch Pro might be, but most estimates put it at about $399. That’s the same price as the Digital Edition of the Playstation 5, and $100 cheaper than the standard PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Even so, it would be the most expensive console Nintendo has ever released, edging out the Wii U by $50 and the current Switch by $100.
Typically, Nintendo’s home consoles and handhelds only get more expensive when they add purely cosmetic value. If the hardware upgrade is necessary for fans to be able to play new games, then the upgraded version is usually cheaper than the original console was at launch. Both the Game Boy Color and the New Nintendo 3DS launched at lower prices than their baseline consoles did, which made purchasing them far more palatable. If the Nintendo Switch Pro does cost $399, it would mark the first time that Nintendo has asked consumers to not only buy a console twice, but to pay more the second time around.
If Nintendo sticks to tradition, then it’s still possible that the Switch Pro could be as cheap as $299. In this case, future Switch titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 would probably need the Pro’s upgraded hardware to run properly. Raising the price any higher would make releasing Pro-exclusive titles a riskier prospect, since there might not be enough of an audience that will be able to run those games.
The original Nintendo Switch came out in 2017, but it’s still significantly less powerful than 2013’s PS4 and Xbox One. The console’s runaway success has proven that raw specs don’t tell the full story, but the PS5 and Xbox Series X have widened the technological gap even further. Nintendo will need to find a way to keep up as Sony and Microsoft continue to push the boundaries of what consoles can do.
A Pro model would allow Nintendo to delay release of a new console and continue to focus on a device that’s still wildly popular. But if Nintendo wants its games to feel like they belong to the current generation of consoles, then those games will need to be optimized to take advantage of the Pro’s upgraded…