Nintendo says its next ‘gaming system’ will release in the year 20XX

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The Nintendo Switch with an OLED screen isn’t even a month old, but the company is already talking about some kind of successor to its wildly popular console / handheld hybrid — although vaguely.

In a presentation to investors, Nintendo hints toward some of its plans in an extremely unspecific way. The company plans to “continue to expand its business around the core concept of creating unique integrated hardware-software products,” which I’m taking to mean that the company will (brace yourself) make more video games and video game hardware in the future.

On the slide, which you can see for yourself on page 41 here (PDF), Nintendo also has a timeline of some of its hardware efforts and specifically includes its “next gaming system” slated to release at an undefined 20XX date. (So sometime between now and 2099, I guess.) There are no hints as to what the hardware might look like, if it will be another hybrid like the Switch, or even just another revision of the Switch. The only image Nintendo includes is a question mark.

Even Nintendo wants you to forget the Wii U, which released in 2012 and isn’t included on this timeline.
Image: Nintendo

While I love the OLED Switch, there are some obvious ways new Nintendo hardware could improve upon it, with perhaps the most obvious upgrade being the ability to play 4K resolution games. Bloomberg reported a Switch that could do that was in development for release this year, but the official OLED Switch doesn’t support 4K games. Just days before the launch of the OLED Switch, Bloomberg reported again that Nintendo was developing a 4K-capable Switch and said it could be released as early as late 2022, but Nintendo categorically denied that report. If there was a feature I’d bet on for Nintendo’s next console, though, it would be 4K.

Nintendo isn’t just investing in hardware; the company is also committing to “value-added services” for Nintendo accounts, and the upward-trending blue triangle in the image above suggests that could be a bigger part of Nintendo’s business in the future. We’re already starting to see that play out with the recently released Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, a more expensive version of its paid online membership that adds Nintendo 64 games, Sega Genesis games, and access the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC.

The company also says it will “continue to improve and expand” both the standard Nintendo Switch Online and the Expansion Pack. While Nintendo doesn’t detail exactly how, one thing to potentially look forward to would be Game Boy games, which are rumored to join Nintendo’s online offerings at some point.

In classic Nintendo fashion, the company is keeping its cards close, and it usually doesn’t reveal hardware, services, or games until it can give some concrete details. (Though I’m still waiting for anything more about Metroid Prime 4 since its reboot was announced nearly three years ago.) But it’s fun to imagine what might be in the hopper, especially now that the company has alluded to future hardware in the works. I can’t wait for 20XX.

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