Development hardware for Nintendo's next console is already in some third-party developers' hands in preparation for a launch in the second half of 2024, according to sources who spoke with gaming news site Video Games Chronicle.
Sources that spoke to Eurogamer corroborated the late 2024 release window, and a Nikkei Asia report previously claimed earlier this year that Nintendo planned to launch its next console sometime after spring of 2024.
Citing "multiple people with knowledge of Nintendo's next-gen console plans," Video Games Chronicle also claims to clarify a few details about the Nintendo Switch's successor. Like the Switch, it will also be usable in portable mode. However, two of Video Games Chronicle's sources suggested that Nintendo will go with an LCD screen to keep costs down, which would make it a downgrade from the latest Switch model in one key area.The drive to keep costs down is reportedly due to the need to include additional storage in the device, as upgrades to other internal hardware like the CPU, GPU, or memory will raise the bar in terms of production values, leading to larger game sizes. It's not unusual for single PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S games to have install sizes larger than the storage any Switch currently ships with, though the Switch's storage can be expanded with microSD cards.
The sources also claimed that Nintendo's next console will have a cartridge slot, accommodating physical releases of games. That wasn't a given, considering the hard shift toward digital purchases across most gaming platforms over the past few years.
The report says that it remains unclear whether backward compatibility with Switch games is part of the plan, but Nintendo leadership hinted during an earnings call earlier this year that it's looking at ways to retain the Switch userbase as it moves into the next generation, which some analysts and outlets read to be a hint that the Switch's successor may be backward compatible.
The Switch first launched over six years ago, in March 2017, but it far surpassed its predecessor, the Wii U, in sales and continues to deliver strong software sales for Nintendo. Hardware sales have slowed, however, with Sony's PlayStation 5 outpacing the Switch recently.Launching in the middle of Sony's and Microsoft's console cycle would be consistent with Nintendo's past strategy. We can surely expect the Switch's successor to offer less processing power and lower fidelity than the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S, given that Nintendo plans to keep the price down so a wide range of families can afford to buy the console, and given the constraints of a portable device.
Targeting a lower graphics spec also reduces the cost in both dollars and manpower of developing new games for the Switch relative to the enormous teams that make showstoppers for the more powerful consoles, potentially improving Nintendo's first-party software margins and allowing its developers to continue making games by similar processes to those they've used before.
There have been no reputable leaks or reports to date about the relative processing power of the Switch's successor, however. A widespread rumor that circulated a couple of years ago about a 4K-targeting higher-end "Switch Pro" seemingly turned out to be a misinterpretation of Nintendo's plans by either journalists or their sources, as the product that ultimately launched was simply the Switch OLED, which paired the Switch's existing internals with a larger, higher-end display.