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The Switch 2 is an easy win — but Nintendo could Wii U it all up

 Nintendo Switch OLED Splatoon 3 edition
Nintendo Switch OLED Splatoon 3 edition

The Nintendo Switch 2 rumor mill has been spitting out unconfirmed leaks, tip-offs and claims almost nonstop for the last six months.

The most prominent rumors have me fairly excited about the potential of the Nintendo Switch 2. A larger 8-inch display? Yes, please. A more powerful Nvidia processor? Sounds perfect. An LCD panel rather than OLED? Not ideal but far from a dealbreaker. But a pair of recent rumors have done the opposite and got me a little spooked.

Couple these claims with Nintendo’s historic track record of taking the path least expected, and I’m starting to wonder if Nintendo might fumble an easy win with the Switch 2. And even worse, the gaming titan could make an unforced error that is even more calamitous than the ill-fated Wii U.

The latest Switch 2 rumors are concerning

Red Dead Redemption Nintendo Switch
Red Dead Redemption Nintendo Switch

Last week, a tipster by the name of Jonathan Bark claimed that the Nintendo Switch 2 will actually be called the Nintendo Focus with the same source suggesting this name comes from the device's “VR [virtual reality] capabilities.” The plot was thickened further when a user on the popular gaming forum ResetEra claimed the Switch 2 will have “a new camera function” although they did note they weren't sure this was related to any VR features.

Before discussing these claims any further it’s important to note that these rumors are entirely unsubstantiated at this point. Both claims should be considered unproven, and until some form of official confirmation should be taken with a significant grain of salt. These leakers may not have genuine information or may have been misinformed by their original source. Keep that in mind as we discuss.

Exactly what a VR-capable Switch 2 would look like is hard to imagine. Perhaps the hypothetical Nintendo Focus is actually an accessory that the Switch 2 unit can be slotted into, much like the Nintendo Labo VR Kit that exists for the current Switch device. Alternatively, Nintendo could be pioneering a new form of VR that doesn’t require a headset at all. This is the company that introduced glassless 3D via the Nintendo 3DS after all.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom running on a special edition Nintendo Switch OLED
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom running on a special edition Nintendo Switch OLED

The suggestion of a camera system has me wondering if rather than VR, Nintendo might instead be looking to include AR (augmented reality) features in the Switch 2. This is an area that Nintendo has played with before, and it would make a lot of sense to revisit the tech if the follow-up to the current Switch is also a hybrid home console/portable system.

However, all this speculating on how Nintendo might incorporate VR (or even AR) into a Switch 2, doesn’t fill me with excitement at the numerous possibilities for new types of play. Instead, I’m very concerned that Nintendo is going to fail to deliver on what I really want to see from a next-generation Switch.

Nintendo could make an unforced error

I can pretty much sum up what I want from the Nintendo Switch 2 in a single sentence: The same console but with more power.

I adore the original Nintendo Switch. It’s a functionality excellent device with a fantastic library of games, and the ability to play on your TV and then instantly switch to portable mode remains as novel to me as it was when I first experienced it back in 2017. Case in point, I'm preparing for a lengthy trip this weekend to visit family, and you better believe my Switch is the first thing going into my carry-on bag.

However, my biggest gripe with the Nintendo Switch in 2023 is its comparative lack of power. Forget holding its own against the PS5 or Xbox Series X, the Switch is less powerful than a PS4 or Xbox One. And that has led to some excellent games being hindered by performance issues. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a near-perfect game, but my 70-hour playthrough was blighted by framerate hiccups and jagged textures a little too often for my liking.

Tom's Guide Awards 2023: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Tom's Guide Awards 2023: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

That’s why I desperately want Nintendo's next hardware to simply be a more powerful version of the current Switch. Give me the same handheld and home console hybrid, but boosted by the latest Nvidia tech, and I’ll almost certainly be buying on day one. And yet, the rumors above have been fearing that Nintendo may instead choose to focus on an unnecessary gimmick such as VR.

The Wii U is infamous because of its trend-chasing tablet-style controller that ultimately proved to be far from fun to use, and clearly never caught on with gamers either. The much-maligned console sold just 13.5m units worldwide, a stark contrast from its precursor the Nintendo Wii which shifted more than 100m units across its lifecycle. Surely Nintendo won’t make the same mistake again and will this time stick to its winning formula rather than innovate for innovation's sake?

After all, the Nintendo Switch is one of the most successful gaming devices of all time — only the PS2 and Nintendo DS have sold more units to date. Clearly, it’s a device that resonates not just with core gamers but with casual players as well. Nintendo should build upon that rather than taking a left turn and trying to shoehorn in some form of gimmicky VR features that almost certainly wouldn't be able to stack up compared to the PSVR 2 or PC-centric headsets anyway.

Here’s hoping that the latest Nintendo Switch 2 rumors prove to be false, and when we finally get some official details, it’s a device that looks to refine the current Switch model rather than rip up the rulebook as Nintendo has done in the past. There’s something to be admired about Nintendo’s habit of doing the unexpected, but in this case, I’m hoping they stick with what’s been successful working for the last six years.

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