The Nintendo Switch marks its third anniversary as somewhat of a gaming industry savior.
Just as Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One saw interest wane, Nintendo delivered a console that would change the definition of console gaming.
Following the massive flop that was the Wii U, many doubted the Switch would catch on. Its main feature, or gimmick depending on who you talked to, was the ability to, well, switch. The Japanese game maker took its handheld expertise stretching back to the Game Boy and gave the home console newfound freedom.
Of course, it also launched with some killer apps in the form of Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A couple of Pokémon entries and a new Smash Brothers title later, Nintendo’s bite-sized console is a winner. And that’s been very good for gaming as a whole. It wasn’t just the apathy of gamers at stake. The downturn of the Xbox One and PS4’s lifecycles meant fewer sales, but the Switch emerged as the leader of the pack in crucial years. It helps that the Switch launched at $300 and followed with the $200 Switch Lite, which ironically cannot Switch and acts as a handheld-only console.
In the last three years, the Switch found success with blockbuster releases and indie games alike. It also has first-party heavy-hitter Animal Crossing and a sequel to Breath of the Wild coming, with the former coming later this month.
In addition to the Switch Lite, the original Switch got an upgrade with better battery life, and speculation continues to swirl of a possible “pro version.” Nintendo remains quiet on the matter.
Still, the future of the Switch and, in turn, Nintendo, remains unwritten past March. With no release date set for the Breath of the Wild sequel, the rest of the year appears cloudy. There hasn’t been a Nintendo Direct, aside from its February Animal Crossing-focused event, since September 2019.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a spinoff title for the popular franchise releases this week, and new DLC for the latest mainline entry Pokémon: Sword and Sheild arrives in the spring and fall. Additionally, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will get its last round of DLC in January 2021.
If the Switch’s history so far is any indication, however, Nintendo likely has surprises in store.