A new interview with the head of Nintendo of America suggests the company may be considering a new version of the Joy-Con controller.
There are two things it’s largely pointless to do when it comes to Nintendo, the first is to attempt to predict them in any way and the second is to try and interview their senior execs.
Not that you often get the chance with the latter, but Polygon has recently sat down with Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser (yes, that’s really his name) and tried to pin him down on subjects ranging from Joy-Con drift to the mythical Switch Pro.
Despite all the effort most of Bowser’s replies are non-answers, but at certain points he does seem to be hinting at the company’s plans for 2021 and beyond.
Bowser avoided giving any kind of straight answer on whether Xbox Game Pass would appear on Switch but when questioned about rumours of a possible Switch Pro he did seem to go out of his way to downplay the possibility.
‘We’re always looking at technology. And as we know, technology is constantly evolving and changing’, he said. ‘And we’re always looking at what is coming to determine: How can it enhance and improve the gameplay experience? And whether that’s on a current platform, or whether that’s on a future platform, we’re always looking at that.’
Nintendo has never said anything to suggest there really is a Switch Pro but many fans have imagined a more powerful, backwards compatible version – especially given how often Nintendo has released such an update for other consoles in the past – and there have been multiple rumours, some fairly convincing, that such a device is being planned.
At first glance, Bowser’s comment seems promising, but it is the standard answer that any console exec gives when asked about new hardware, since it is true that every company immediately starts research and development on a new console as soon as the existing one is released.
‘As Mr [Shuntaro] Furukawa [president of Nintendo] mentioned in his corporate management policy briefing, we believe we’re just at the midpoint of this life cycle on this platform’, said Bowser of the existing Switch models.
‘Right now, with the momentum that we have, our focus will be on the existing form factors.’
Bowser was also asked about ongoing problems with Joy-Con drift on the Switch’s controllers, although it should be noted that Nintendo of America has a clear policy to repair Joy-Cons for free -rather than the lottery that many have reported from Nintendo of Europe, where sometimes Joy-Cons are repaired free of charge and sometimes not.
So while that issue wasn’t really raised Bowser did seem to hint at some kind of major hardware revision for the Joy-Cons (which is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect if the Switch Pro was real):
‘What I will say, as we look at our repair cycles, we’re always looking at what is being sent in and for what reasons, and understanding that better. And without going into any details, it always gives us an opportunity to make improvements as we go forward.’
The important thing to remember here is that even if the Switch Pro was coming out tomorrow Nintendo wouldn’t mention it today unless it was part of a carefully prepared marketing plan, so we’d take everything that’s said here with a pinch of salt.
All we really know at the moment is that we know nothing, when it comes to Nintendo’s plans for 2021.
The only first party game they have scheduled for next year is Wii U port Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury in February and there’s no way to tell whether previously announced titles such as Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 will be released next year or even when they’ll be seen again in public.
That’s obviously in large part because of the uncertainties created by the pandemic, although it’s still not very different from Nintendo’s normal levels of secrecy.
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