1.31.2020 6:29 PM

whomp whomp

Nintendo Switch Pro won’t happen until at least 2021, and we already know why

Sorry, gamers.

Rumors about a more potent Nintendo Switch “Pro” console have been circulating since early 2019. Despite some claims that an upgraded console might release this year, Nintendo has confirmed that's not the case. Here's the reason why.

Chatter about the potential console resurfaced in January when a report alleged it would be released in mid-2020, but Nintendo has once again quashed any hope that an upgraded model to its beloved gaming system would launch this year.

During an earnings call Friday morning, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa straight-up told investors and reporters that there won’t be any new Switch hardware in 2020.

“Regarding Nintendo Switch, we believe that it is important to continue to communicate the appeal of both Nintendo Switch systems and expand the installed base,” said Furukawa. “Please note that we have no plans to launch a new Nintendo Switch model during 2020.”

Just because Nintendo won't launch a new Switch model this year doesn’t mean the company isn’t working on a new iteration already. On the contrary, a Nintendo Switch Pro console feels all but inevitable. Furukawa's comment just means that Nintendo won't release it this year. The reason why seems abundantly clear.

The systems are still selling really well, so it's smart business for Nintendo to just coast along on the sales of the 2017 Nintendo Switch and the 2019 Nintendo Switch Lite ... for now.

Nintendo’s current president Shuntaro Furukawa (left) shakes hands with former president Tatsumi Kimishima in Osaka on April 26, 2018Associated Press (Kyodo News)

Nintendo sold 10.81 million Switch consoles last quarter alone, which boosted the system’s lifetime sales to 52.48 million. The Switch has now surpassed the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in total sales and Furukawa sees room for continued growth in this current generation of Switch consoles without having to show off any future products yet.

The Switch and Switch Lite are on pace to overtake even Sony’s PlayStation 4 in terms of lifetime sales, assuming the Switch's current momentum continues. Sony announced earlier this January that the company had sold 106 million PS4 units since the console's November 2013 release. Sony had sold 50 million units by December 2016, about 37 months after its launch. The Switch, however, has generated more sales in only 34 months, making it even more of a hot commodity than the PS4 in its prime.

That’s reassuring news for Nintendo as Sony and Microsoft remain months away from launching their next-generation consoles. The Switch will continue riding its popularity for a majority of 2020 until the PS5 and Xbox Series X launch in the last few months of the year. That’s when Switch sales might begin to stall, but Nintendo most likely has an ace up its sleeve for this scenario.

Sony and Microsoft’s upcoming consoles will come with major improvements to graphics and computing, which might make the Switch seem dated at the literal expense of a hefty price tag. The $300 Switch and $200 Switch Lite maintain appeal for consumers as an affordable, kid-friendly console. The rumored Switch Pro might eventually be capable of going head-to-head with the PS5 and new Xbox in the upcoming console wars, and early 2021 would be the perfect time to sneak into the fray late in the conflict.

Months worth of supply chain reporting from journalists like former Wall Street Journal game hardware reporter Takashi Mochizuki suggest that a more capable Switch is in the works currently, although nothing has been officially confirmed yet. Nintendo’s Furukawa has previously stated that the company is always cooking up new hardware, a vague promise that is just the kind of thing that can keep just about anyone happy.

“As a general rule, we’re always working on new hardware and we will announce it when we are able to sell it,” he said in a 2019 earnings report.

The Switch Pro is by no means dead in the water; Nintendo is simply in no rush to churn out a new console when an older product keeps selling like hotcakes. The time for a souped-up Switch will come one day, but it just won’t be this year.

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