Nintendo has been a mainstay of the gaming scene for decades now, with several generations growing up with at least one of the consoles offered by the company. From the early days of platform games on the NES and SNES to the current success of the Nintendo Switch, the gaming audience has generally expected big things from the company. As much as quality remains a certainty, the pace and timing of Nintendo’s many products tend to be shrouded in mystery to gamers year after year.
Whether it’s the month-long silences between the appropriate Nintendo Direct broadcasts, or the new material not revealed until near release, there are always questions surrounding Nintendo. That being said, generations of consoles only last that long, so Nintendo will at some point have to concoct a suitable console to take the Switch’s place. Based on the console’s shortcomings and previous launches, an educated guess can be made as to when this will happen.
Nintendo – 8 bit to 16 bit
After the 1983 “video game crash”, the gaming scene almost faded into a memory when it was still in its infancy. Fortunately, Nintendo jumped onto the scene after its success in the arcades with Donkey kong and launched the revolutionary 8-Bit NES on store shelves in 1985. The console brought gaming to homes and simultaneously launched franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and THE Legend of Zelda.
Of course, when one business is successful, others will want to win a slice of the same pie. Sega tried to compete with the NES with its own Mega Drive, but really clinched gold with the launch of the 16-bit Sega Genesis in 1989. The Sega Genesis, although more graphically advanced and offering more technically advanced games, didn’t seem to intimidate Nintendo too much at the time. Nintendo sat comfortably on the NES for another two years, not launching its own 16-bit machine until 1991 with the legendary Super Nintendo.
Nintendo – The leap to 3D
Over time, the games have continued to progress and the hardware has steadily improved over what was previously available. In the mid-1990s, the biggest push was the transition from 2D to 3D gameplay, with fully interactive and explorable worlds for players to immerse themselves in. While some effort was made with the technology available on SNES and Sega Genesis at the time, the first console to really achieve the 3D effect without any tricks or gimmicks was Sony’s PlayStation, released in 1995.
During this fifth generation of games, Nintendo’s offering was the Nintendo 64. The console began to develop in 1993 and was in fact almost finished by 1995, which would have made it possible for Nintendo not to leave Sony behind. take over. However, Nintendo opposed the launch in the same year and chose to delay the Nintendo 64 until 1996, which resulted in an additional year of internal development. In the end, this led to some advantages over the PS1 and arguably more impressive 3D graphics overall.
Likewise, the GameCube didn’t launch alongside the PlayStation 2 in 2000, but the following year instead. It’s not such a unique quality this time around, as the first Xbox was also released in 2001. However, the notable thing about Nintendo’s approach this time around is how it continued to do its own thing, not just by trying to outdo its competition in terms of sheer power. Compared to the PS2 and Xbox, the GameCube was compact and lightweight, and games were stored on “miniDVD” discs, which allowed for much faster load times.
Nintendo – The HD Generation
Five years after the GameCube, Nintendo released the Wii in 2006 with huge success, selling well over 100 million units (eclipsing the GameCube’s 21 million). During this generation, Nintendo’s success with motion controls and more casual experiences carried the company favorably through an otherwise HD visual-focused gaming landscape. The Xbox 360 and PS3 were immensely more powerful than the Wii, but as with previous generations of consoles, that didn’t seem to bother Nintendo, especially considering how much the Wii did in its own way.
At this point in Nintendo’s history, it marked an important turning point in the company’s console generations, indicating how the company has done business in the future. At the end of the 360 / PS3 lifecycle in 2012, Nintendo released the Wii U, which sadly underperformed selling only 13 million units in total. Much of this was due to a poor lineup of launch games and confusing marketing with the name “Wii U” that made it look like an addition to the previous console.
The Wii U struggled for the next few years until Nintendo changed things up with the Nintendo Switch in March 2017. Since then it has sold extremely well, something Nintendo surely wants to continue and not return to woes. of the Wii U. Although the Switch launch was awkwardly sandwiched between the PS4 / Xbox One and PS5 / Xbox Series X generations, Nintendo is not phased and more focused on doing its own thing.
Nintendo – Predicting the future
With all of this in mind, there are a few variables that can be taken into account when guessing when Nintendo’s console will launch next. Nintendo doesn’t respect other people’s rules and likes to do its own thing. Whether it’s sticking to cartridges or focusing on motion controls on HD graphics, you never know which left-field idea the company will follow next. However, the average gap between all Nintendo home consoles is around six years. With the Switch launched in 2017, that six-year timeline will end by 2023, just two years from now.
The recent announcement of the Switch OLED model feels more like a sustain or secondary option and less like an upgrade in the same sense that the PS4 Pro was the base PS4. Additionally, Nintendo won’t be launching a new console next year in 2022, so soon after the OLED model as it would seem redundant. Combine that with Nintendo stating that it will continue to support the Switch beyond 2023, which is also the usual lifespan of its older consoles. While Nintendo likes to play things close to the chest, it would be a safe bet to expect proper follow-up from the Switch over the next couple of years.
The Nintendo Switch The OLED model will launch on October 8, 2021.
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