For years, reports have alleged that Nintendo is working on a more powerful Switch, and for years, it has yet to come true. Instead of releasing a Switch Pro with 4K graphics this year as was rumored, Nintendo announced in July it would simply take the current version and slap an OLED screen on it. So what happened to the long rumored 4K version? According to Bloomberg, development kits for it still exist, and game companies have them.
“By the time Nintendo showed off the new console in July, the company had already handed out the 4K kits to outside developers and asked them to design software to support the higher resolution,” Bloomberg reported today. “The Nintendo Switch kit contains extra memory to accommodate debugging software and additional ports to facilitate a connection to a computer but otherwise has similar capabilities to the hardware that customers would have at home.”
This new information is based on accounts from employees at 11 different game companies, according to Bloomberg. One of these sources includes Zynga, who is currently developing Star Wars: Hunters, a game that has been delayed until 2022.
Update, 9/30/9:10 a.m. ET: Zynga has denied the report. “To clarify, Zynga does not have a 4K developer kit from Nintendo,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku in an email. “As a Switch developer for the upcoming Star Wars: Hunters game that Zynga announced on a recent Nintendo Direct, we can confirm that none of the developer kits Zynga has or is in receipt of are 4K developer kits.”
Nintendo, however, disputes Bloomberg’s report, calling it “inaccurate,” though declining to elaborate further on specifically was incorrect. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Kotaku.
Update, 9/29/21, 8:21 p.m. ET: Nintendo has also issued a statement to investors denying Bloomberg’s report, saying it has not supplied “tools to drive game development for a Nintendo Switch with 4K support.”
The rest of the original story follows.
Bloomberg, and reporter Takashi Mochizuki in particular, the author of today’s article (and previously with the Wall Street Journal), has been behind a number of early reports on Nintendo’s Switch plans going back to shortly after the console’s launch. This included early rumblings around the eventual Switch Lite, and then a report that Nintendo was working on an upgraded model as well. The first time 4K was mentioned was in August 2020.
“The specifications of the new machine have yet to be finalized, though the Kyoto-based company has looked into including more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics,” he wrote at the time.
Things solidified further in March of this year, when Mochizuki reported, according to his sources, that, “The latest model will also come with 4K ultra-high definition graphics when paired with TVs.” The main focus of the article was a new OLED screen upgraded Switches would be using, but the promise of 4K is what most in the gaming community were hoping for and thus latched onto.
So when 4K was missing from Nintendo’s new hardware announcement over the summer, people were not only crestfallen, they were confused. Some even felt bamboozled by the seemingly false reports.
Product changes, even last minute ones, are not unheard of in tech. That’s especially true in a year as tumultuous and full of supply chain disruptions as the last one. In today’s report, which is co-bylined by technology writer Olga Kharif and includes contributions from two additional reporters, a source told Bloomberg the global component shortage may have delayed Nintendo’s eventual 4K plans. Or it might not be in cards at all. But it certainly sounds like it was in the cards at some point.
“Developers declined to speculate on Nintendo’s plans for another console but said they expect to release their 4K Switch games during or after the second half of next year,” Bloomberg noted in today’s report.
Of course, by 2022 the Switch will be five years old, and the Nvidia Tegra chip architecture it was originally built on will be even older. Whether it ends up having 4K or not, we’ll likely get a true successor to the Switch eventually—and whether it’s a continuation of the already successful hardware or something new altogether remains to be seen.