Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nintendo's 4K version of the Switch, a very poorly kept secret, might be coming this fall

A kid playing a Nintendo Switch
A kid playing a Nintendo Switch
Photo: Neilson Barnard (Getty Images)

The video game industry is packed full of poorly kept secrets, both because games are often made by massive corporations that employ people who are really excited to brag to their friends about the new kinds of stabbing that will be in the next Assassin’s Creed and because the industry—as fun and innovative as it tries to be—is often very predictable. Nintendo likes to think it’s the exception to this rule, since it’ll do a loop-de-loop when people expect it to zig or zag, but one thing you can absolutely count on Nintendo to do is make new iterations of its portable hardware to introduce features that should’ve been there all along. The Game Boy Color put color on the Game Boy, the Game Boy Advance SP put a light on the Game Boy Advance, later DS iterations improved internet connectivity, later 3DS versions added extra buttons (or removed the 3D feature entirely), and now it sounds like Nintendo is finally ready to admit that it’s working on a similar update to the Switch.

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Now, this is all still a rumor at this point, but it’s the kind of rumor that has basically been an open secret for years, so the fact that serious news outlets are starting to move forward with stories about it seems like a solid indication that it’s really happening. Said news outlets include Bloomberg, which says Nintendo is planning to launch a new version of the Switch in September or October with a 7-inch Samsung OLED screen that you can use while mobile and beefier guts that allow it to display 4K graphics when hooked up to a TV. Bloomberg suggests that it will replace the current $300 Switch model (which has a 6.2 inch LCD screen and tops out at 1080p on a TV), but that it will also be more expensive to account for the pricier parts and pricier labor.

None of this seems particularly hard to believe (again, everyone has known that Nintendo would do something like this for a while), but if there’s one thing that might be worth questioning, it’s that last bit. Nintendo has never tried to offer a top-of-the-line product that directly competes with the super-powered PlayStations and Xboxes of the world, so it has never really been the kind of company that demands that its customers pay a premium price for hardware (the Switch is $300, and the PlayStation 5 is $500). It would be mildly surprising if this new Switch—Switch Pro, Super Switch, whatever—was really expensive, especially if the only alternative will be the stripped-down Switch Lite model (which can’t be plugged into the TV). Bloomberg also points out that chip shortages and other issues have prevented Nintendo from being able to manufacture as many regular Switches as it has wanted to, so those problems would presumably be exacerbated by the company switching over to a whole new thing.

But Nintendo has done all of this before in one form or another, and it’s been burned by enough wacky big swings (cough the Virtual Boy cough) to know not to jump headfirst into a new thing that it’s not totally confident will work. Basically, don’t be surprised if Nintendo announces a new Switch really soon, but also don’t be surprised if it’s not exactly what you expected.