Nintendo Switch price, specs, launch games and release date: Everything we (don't) know

Nintendo Switch price, specs, launch games and release date: Everything we (don't) know
Source: NVIDIA
Source: NVIDIA

Should you be interested in the Nintendo Switch? It sure would be easier to ask that question if we knew anything beyond what yesterday's reveal trailer showed off, and the trailer probably shouldn't be taken at face value.

For example: The reveal trailer shows gamers seamlessly shifting gameplay from a television to the Nintendo Switch's portable screen — but will the transition from big screen to little screen actually be that smooth?

The trailer also shows Nintendo Switch players enjoying on-the-road multiplayer, which is probably one of the most interesting things about the console from what we've seen so far — but what games are we talking about? How complicated could they be if the controller you'll use most often for on-the-go multiplayer is the rudimentary Joy-Con controller?

We have far more questions than answers when it comes to the Nintendo Switch, but we can at least break down the most important questions that will ultimately decide whether or not the Nintendo Switch will earn a place in our hearts and homes when it's released in March 2017.

Nintendo Switch price? It may have leaked...

As we discussed earlier, the only way to gauge the potential asking price of the Nintendo Switch is to look at the other eighth-generation consoles on the market, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, to try and get an idea of how much gamers are willing to pay for console hardware now.

The Nintendo Switch is arguably not aimed at the core gaming crowd, whom the PS4 and Xbox One target more directly. What would parents be willing to pay to adopt the Switch for their kids? Surely that's the sort of thing that will factor into Nintendo's decision as to what dollar amount to slap on the tag.

TechAdvisor, however, reports that British retailer Tesco may have blown the surprise via a product page for the Nintendo Switch that was published preemptively — and abruptly taken down. It suggested an asking price of 349 pounds sterling, which today would convert to around $427.

Nintendo Switch specs? We have no idea.

One can never blame the video game industry for not being secretive enough. Just as Microsoft hasn't been forthcoming yet in listing the precise hardware specifications for the upcoming improved XBox One model — dubbed Project Scorpio — and just as Sony didn't confirm specs for the PlayStation 4 Pro until Sept. 7, just over two months before the Pro goes on sale, safe money bets on Nintendo taking its time to reveal the guts of the Nintendo Switch.

Better to let the audience digest what the Switch is meant to be capable of, as is the point of the announce trailer, and to forestall the inevitable analysis by gamers and journalists as to what the Switch will or won't be able to do, as judged purely on the basis of the hardware specs.

Nintendo wouldn't even show the Switch this year at E3, the most important annual video game consumer show in the industry, for fear of competitors ripping off the concept. If Nintendo was that protective over the idea for the Switch, imagine how long we might have to wait for all the finer details like tech specs.

We do know that graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA is providing some of the technology that powers the Switch, specifically a custom-designed Tegra processor and a suite of software that includes physics engines and new game tools. NVIDIA is one of the two leading companies in the graphics hardware arms race, the other being AMD.

'Splatoon' looks great on the Nintendo Switch in the reveal trailer, but will 'Splatoon' actually be available for the Switch on launch day?
Source: 
Nintendo

Nintendo Switch games: New ZeldaMario, Skyrim, Splatoon and more revealed

For many consumers, the launch game lineup for the Nintendo Switch may be more important than price or hardware specifications. After all, when it comes to assessing the value of game hardware, what ultimately matters is which games you can play, and whether they're any good.

Assuming that we can take at face value the games we saw in the Nintendo Switch reveal trailer, we can imagine that Skyrim and Splatoon will be either launch titles or released shortly after the Nintendo Switch hits stores. We also saw what looks like a new Mario game, a Mario Kart title and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that we've already known for a while was coming out for the new console.

Other than that, all we've been shown is a list of third-party supporters for the Nintendo Switch, and names on a page don't mean a whole heck of a lot right now, especially with the trouble Nintendo had finding third-party support for the Wii U.

Nintendo Switch touchscreen? Still no answer.

The touchscreen on the Wii U's GamePad was not worked effectively into many Wii U games, but for certain titles — like Zombi U, Super Mario Maker and Splatoon, to name a few — the touchscreen was utilized quite well by game developers.

A quick look at the Nintendo Switch makes a comparison to the GamePad's design obvious — buttons on the side, screen in the middle — but whether or not the Switch has a touchscreen is a complete unknown, and as Ars Technica reports, Nintendo is dodging the question.


'Skyrim' on a portable console also sounds awesome, but do we have to install it on a hard drive? Can the Switch actually run a game this large off a cartridge?
Source: 
Nintendo

Nintendo Switch game cartridges confirmed, but how much memory will they hold?

It's cool to see that Nintendo is once again incorporating physical game cartridges into its console designs. Game carts, once a bastion of the home console world, have long since faded into relative obscurity with the rise of digital media and games you can purchase and download online. Nintendo has never entirely given up the ghost, however, as Nintendo's DS line of handheld consoles still uses carts.

The idea of playing Skyrim off a game cartridge sounds neat, but Nintendo Switch cartridges might only function as keys that allow you to play installed games, much in the same way you install PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games on the console's hard drive, but still need the discs in the drive to unlock the games for play (as a means of proving that you actually own them).

Until we know how much memory is on Nintendo Switch cartridges, we won't know how the console integrates them. They might only be used for save game storage, for all we know thus far.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Dennis Scimeca

Published on Salon, NPR, Ars Technica, Kotaku, Polygon, Gamasutra, GamesBeat, Paste. Former games writer at The Daily Dot. Reach me at dennis@mic.com.

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