GameCentral attempts the impossible by trying to predict Nintendo’s future console plans and what comes after Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom.
The one thing you should never do when writing about video games is to try and predict Nintendo. Everyone knows that and everyone is always wrong when they end up doing it anyway. But as inscrutable as Nintendo usually is, there’s an increasingly popular theory that seems to predict both their software and hardware plans for the next two years.
Officially, Nintendo has said nothing about what games they’re going to release this year, beyond Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom in May and a few other smaller releases. There are rumours of a Nintendo Direct this month, that may reveal more, but the current theory suggests that the reason we don’t know more about future games is because… there aren’t any. At least not in terms of major titles.
Multiple, reliable sources have suggested that after Tears Of The Kingdom, and Pikmin 4, there are no big name games left to be released for the Switch. This in turn implies that the Nintendo Switch 2 – or whatever the next console ends up being called – is relatively imminent. And yet both Nintendo and unofficial sources insist that no new hardware is planned this year. So what exactly is going on?
As unpredictable as they might seem Nintendo isn’t completely crazy and there are many traditions of the games business that they follow just as closely as anyone else. Perhaps the most important is that as soon as your console starts to see its sales slow down it’s time to think about releasing the next one. Although the Nintendo Switch is still selling incredibly well (they actually increased production recently) the rate of growth has slowed and that means that, no matter what else Nintendo says, it’s time for a successor.
Rumours suggest they were going to try a stop gap upgrade – the mythical Switch Pro, equivalent to the PS4 Pro – but the complications of the pandemic have supposedly killed that idea. Which means the next stop is the Nintendo Switch 2 itself.
Christmas 2023 is the first obvious opportunity to launch it, but Nintendo insists it has no plans to release new hardware this year and nothing they’ve done up to this point suggests otherwise. Moreso, there are no rumours that point towards a launch this year, despite a suspiciously large gap in Nintendo’s release schedules.
What Nintendo Switch games are out in 2023?
At the moment there are only four games confirmed for released in 2023 from Nintendo, one of which (Bayonetta) is made entirely be a third party developer and another of which (Kirby) is just a remaster of a Wii game. So that’s really only two big name games we know about for this year and, really, Pikmin has never been that big.
24 February – Kirby’s Return To Dream Land Deluxe
17 March – Bayonetta Origins: Cereza And The Lost Demon
12 May – The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
TBA 2023 – Pikmin 4
It’s also possible remaster Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp could be out this year, but again that’s by an outside company, so won’t be tying up any of Nintendo’s internal resources. The only other game that Nintendo is known to be working on for certain is Metroid Prime 4, whose release date is impossible to guess at.
So far, there’s no hint at whatever games Nintendo has planned for Christmas, and while it’s not unusual for us not to know about them at this point in the year, multiple sources claim that, actually, there are no other games.
It’s more than likely there are some other, smaller titles, especially remasters and indie titles, but trusted sources, including writers for GamesIndustry.biz, VGC, and IGN all agree that Nintendo does not have another major title planned for the Nintendo Switch after Zelda.
Knowing how well Zelda: Breath Of The Wild worked as a launch game, the theory is that they’d then want to make a new, next gen version of Tears Of The Kingdom, to illustrate how much more powerful the new system is.
That’s pure speculation but it does make logical sense. But then the comments from proven insiders appeared and while it’s not entirely clear how much of them are merely speculation, this week both IGN and VGC claimed that the reason why Nintendo isn’t going to be at E3 this year is because they don’t have enough games to show (Tears Of The Kingdom comes out in May, E3 is in June).
This comes only a week after reports from Japan claimed that component providers are gearing up to work on the Switch 2 and that its release date is, in fact, 2024. Although it’s worth pointing out that similar reports emerged about the Switch Pro and while they may only have been wrong because Nintendo changed their mind it does mean they’re not an entirely reliable source of information.
At this point the circumstantial evidence beings to pile up and from there it’s not hard to imagine that perhaps Pikmin 4 is being promoted to Nintendo’s lead game for Christmas. We also like the idea that Nintendo could also being look to extend the life of existing games with new DLC, such as they have already done with Mario Kart 8.
There’s already rumours of Super Mario Odyssey DLC to coincide with the Super Mario Bros. Movie in April, so perhaps Nintendo could also reverse their bizarre decision to cut off support for Animal Cross: New Horizons, or indeed any number of their other successful games.
Dragging this out till Christmas 2024 seems a stretch, literally, but the idea of trying to repeat the circumstances of the original Switch’s launch, which took place in May, must seem very appealing to Nintendo. Especially as they can, to some degree at least, use the same trick with Zelda being on both the older system and the new one.
And who knows, perhaps the long gestating Metroid Prime 4 could also be a launch title? If Tears Of The Kingdom is the last big title then logically that means Metroid Prime 4 becomes a Switch 2 only game. Although whether it’s that close to being finished is completely unknown.
When with the Nintendo Switch 2 be released?
Based on the slim evidence available, reliable rumours, and what seems to be sound logic the best guess for what’s going on is that there will be only a limited number of new first party Switch games released after Tears Of The Kingdom, leading up to the launch of the Switch 2 in or around May 2024 – preceded by an initial announcement early in the new year.
Is that what will happen? We don’t advise putting money on it but if it was anyone other than Nintendo we’d say that it seems a sensible, logical prediction.
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