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News How Accurate Were the Rumors About Nintendo Switch?

News Bot Oct 20, 2016

  1. News Bot

    News Bot Chaos Immortal

    Nintendo finally pulled back the curtain today on its new system, the Nintendo Switch. It marked the first time it has discussed the console in any real detail since first confirming its existence in March 2015 under the code name NX.

    In the 17 months since then, there has been no shortage of rumors purporting to detail the nature of the system, which Nintendo had only described as being a "brand-new concept." While there remain many key details we still don't know about the Switch, we do know enough to evaluate those past reports--many of which turned out to be right on the money.

    We've gathered up some of the key rumors from the last year and a half below to have a look at what did and didn't pan out based on what we know so far.

    It's a Console/Handheld Hybrid

    A year ago almost to the day, The Wall Street Journal reported Nintendo had begun sending out development kits for NX, revealing it to be a sort of console/handheld hybrid. It described the system as being comprised of a console and "at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use."

    Indeed, as we learned today, that's precisely what the Nintendo Switch is: a system that can be docked to connect with a TV or taken with you outside the home. However, from what we can glean from today's announcement, there is no distinction between the console and the separate "mobile unit"--the system itself with its integrated screen is what you take with you. However, we don't yet know if the dock provides the system with any additional horsepower, or perhaps a way to expand whatever internal storage it comes with.

    Accuracy: Mostly true

    It Has "Industry-Leading Chips"

    That same WSJ report also suggested the NX would be equipped with "industry-leading chips," presumably to offer things like better graphics.

    With today only serving as the initial announcement--and this being Nintendo, which is less inclined to talk about internal hardware--we didn't hear anything about the Switch's specs. The only technical detail offered came from Nvidia, which revealed the Switch is equipped with a custom Tegra processor. "The high-efficiency scalable processor includes an Nvidia GPU based on the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards," it said. Using the same architecture, though, is not the same as being equipped with those high-ends GPUs.

    That kind of high-level talk provides little insight into what's housed inside the Switch-- which, keep in mind, needs to be able to operate on a battery for a reasonable amount of time when used as a handheld.

    It also affords us no way to compare it with the existing versions of the Xbox One and PS4, nor the upcoming PS4 Pro and Xbox One Scorpio. However, given the handheld option and Nintendo's history of not offering the highest-end hardware, this probably will not pan out.

    Accuracy: To be determined, but unlikely

    It's Coming in 2016

    The final detail from that WSJ report regarded the NX's release date. It cited Macquarie Capital Securities analyst David Gibson, who suggested the NX would be out in 2016 due to the "softness of 3DS and Wii U." This followed a previous report from Taiwan-based publication Digitimes, which stated that mass production would start in May or June 2016, with a release happening in July.

    While that may have been the plan at one point, Nintendo announced in April 2016 that it wouldn't be happening: NX would in fact arrive in March 2017. That release window was again reiterated with today's announcement, though Nintendo failed to narrow it down any further.

    Accuracy: Wrong

    It Has Detachable Controllers

    Eurogamer reported in July that numerous sources had indicated that NX was indeed a console/handheld hybrid, and that it had detachable controller modules. These could be attached to both sides of the screen when the system was removed from its dock.

    That's exactly right, as the Joy-Cons, as they're officially called, can be attached to the sides of the Switch when it's used as a portable. Alternatively, the Joy-Cons can be connected to a Grip accessory that effectively turns them into something resembling a standard controller. They can also be used wirelessly.

    Accuracy: True

    It Uses Cartridges

    Also in that Eurogamer story was word that the NX would use cartridges in lieu of some kind of disc-based media. This was reiterated in a subsequent report from The Wall Street Journal. Eurogamer also said it had heard Nintendo was recommending 32 GB cartridges.

    This is another area subject Nintendo confirmed today, albeit indirectly. The announcement trailer showed a small cartridge--known as a game card, according to a label on the Switch--being inserted into the top of the system. The choice of cartridges isn't much of a surprise in light of the handheld component, as non-moving parts are the sensible choice from a battery life perspective. There's not yet any word regarding the capacity of these cards, but as noted at the time, 32 GB is on the small side for many modern games. An NBA 2K game was shown; 2K17's installation on PS4 and Xbox One is nearly 50 GB.

    Accuracy: True

    It Runs on Android

    One of the earliest rumors about the NX back in mid-2015 came from Japanese newspaper Nikkei, which stated that Nintendo would adapt Google's Android operating system for use in it. Eurogamer's July 2016 report disputed this.

    Much like with the specs, Nintendo didn't delve into the operating system powering the Switch today. There was also no mention whatsoever of Google, and given the absence of any subsequent reports about Android support, the original story seems dubious.

    Accuracy: To be determined, but unlikely

    It Has a Weird Controller

    A number of Nintendo patents were discovered over the last year for various controller concepts. One showed a free-form touch controller, while another discussed new speaker and vibration ideas. A third lent credence to the possibility that external controllers could be detachable. Yet another covered the concept of removable d-pads and things of that nature.

    As we noted whenever they popped up, these patents weren't necessarily related to the NX; companies frequently patent concepts that never end up being implemented. We know the free-form controller hasn't come into play here, as traditional analog sticks and buttons are used with the Switch. In fact, we don't yet know that the Switch's screen allows for touch controls--they weren't seen in the video or referenced in the press release.

    The attachable controller modules patent appears to have some crossover with the reality of what the Switch is, though we don't know if any aspect of that patent is being leveraged here. Similarly, we don't know at this stage if the Switch is doing anything new with speakers or vibration (assuming that's even present), but there's still time for that sort of thing to be announced.

    Accuracy: Somewhat true, but to be determined

    It'll Quickly Have Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda Games

    MCV reported in August that Nintendo wanted to help NX get off to a strong start, which it would accomplish by ensuring it quickly had some major first-party games. More specifically, it said Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon games would all be released for the system within its first six months.

    Nintendo teased a number of games coming to the Switch during its announcement. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the few officially confirmed games for the platform, having been delayed to release alongside the system.

    There was no word on a new Mario or Pokemon game for Switch, but gameplay of what may be a new 3D Mario platformer was shown briefly (see the gif above) during today's Switch announcement video. Nintendo said the games shown were "short glimpses of representative gameplay to demonstrate the liberating nature of the Nintendo Switch home gaming system." That doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't a new Mario.

    Even if it is, there's no telling when it will be released. But the fact that Nintendo showed something does leave open the door for such a game to be released by September 2017.

    Accuracy: To be determined

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