This week, the speculation on Nintendo’s next console not only ended, it also restarted, as Nintendo turned gamers onto its next-generation console: the Switch, arriving in 2017.
Gaming is changing dramatically, and as mobile phones threaten the portable space, console makers need to either join up and release smartphone games and/or have a mobile console in the market.
Microsoft doesn’t quite work in that area, but Sony and Nintendo sure do, with the PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) occupying Sony’s spot and a couple of consoles that have evolved from the “dual-screen” DS concept in Nintendo’s world, the 2DS and 3DS offering a flat-two dimensional experience and one with an extra third dimension.
But Nintendo’s consoles have merely just been riffing on that “DS” theme in started in 2004, and 12 years is a long time for consoles, especially as hardware changes very, very quickly.
So for its next console, Nintendo is doing things a little differently.
Imagine a tablet that you could connect controllers to, that has a stand and can be used with wireless controllers, that can be used in wireless connectivity with other tablets, and that can be connected to a TV easily to use the tablet as a regular console on a big screen.
This is Nintendo’s Switch.
“Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, President and Chief Operating Officer at Nintendo of America.
“It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”
It’s about the level of “portable” gamers dream of, and instead of needing a specialised computer or game synchonisation to the cloud, will encourage people to just take the console with them.
But we’re also reminded of another product or two with this design, as the Nintendo NX brings back images of both the Nvidia Shield tablet gaming device, as well as Razer’s Edge Pro, both of which put a whole bunch of gaming power behind a small tablet, though each were designed for different operating systems.
If we recall correctly, the Shield was Android based while the Edge was Windows based, and each were built for more powerful gaming than what could be found in consoles, though mobile gaming power is beginning to make inroads into what both products can do.
Even some of the functionality is similar, with variants of Nvidia’s Shield arriving with a controller, while Razer’s Edge Pro not only supported controllers that could sit along the side and hold the tablet, but also supported a dock to plug the Edge Pro into a TV screen.
We doubt Nintendo has teamed up with Razer to accomplish this for its Switch product, and Razer still sells its Edge Pro, though its availability in Australia is a bit of a question mark. Still, the Nvidia option does ring true for the Switch, and with Nvidia coming out and claiming its technology is used in the Switch — with a custom Tegra processor — one wonders where exactly the next Shield is.
According to one report from around the web, we may have our answer: the Switch.
American technology website Digital Trends wrote in August of this year that “Nvidia has canceled plans to upgrade its shield tablet”, suggesting that the Nintendo NX — the codename of the Switch console — was the reason why, despite Nvidia’s announcement of it being killed off for business reasons.
It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if Nintendo was using the Shield for its Switch tablet, and it just happens to be a neat name change, given the names both have six letters, one vowel, and both start with the letter “s”.
As you do.
Nintendo’s adoption of the Shield should at least give Nvidia’s tablet the shot in the arm it needs, and with games being made for the system by a fairly large amount of developers, not to mention the level of accessories we expect the system should have.
Perhaps the most interesting realisation of the Nintendo Switch, at least in this journalist’s opinion, is the realisation for where gaming should be, and that’s everywhere.
Forget about gaming in one place, because this is about gaming everywhere. Play the same game you were playing on the big screen at home or on the bus or on the plane or really anywhere; it’s a definition of mobility that in theory smartphones promise, but hasn’t quite eventuated, especially since gaming data is often too large for constant synchronisation to the cloud, especially in comparison to the much less data heavy book syncing where your last reading place can be easily synced between devices.
Nintendo’s Switch gets around this whole drama by placing all the technology in the one place, as we’re now at the level where taking high quality games with you is possible, and thanks to wireless controllers, even makes the whole thing a multiplayer affair.
In essence, Nintendo’s next portable gaming system could be the level of convergence gaming needs, killing off the disconnect between home and going out.
As for when you’ll get to experience the console, Nintendo doesn’t plan on releasing the Switch until March next year, so we still have some time to see if mobile gaming gets its act together and provides a dock or sync mechanism to bring this sort of power to Android, iOS, or Windows.
If not, you’ll be able to Switch.
*boom tish, runs away*