Our Biggest Unanswered Questions About Nintendo Switch
Still more questions to answer.
Nintendo's big press conference livestream on Switch revealed an abundance of new details that answered many of the questions we had about the upcoming console/handheld hybrid. While the press conference gave us clarity on what to expect, there remain more questions that have yet to be answered. Below we discuss the biggest unanswered questions still percolating in our minds about Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is set to launch on March 3 for $300 in the US. Switch will also launch simultaneously in the US, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, "major European countries," and other territories. For more on the confirmed details on Nintendo Switch, you check out our roundup on everything you need to know about the console.
If you're looking to try out Switch, you're in luck. Nintendo is embarking on a multi-city tour where you'll be be able to try out the new console yourself. The public event will provide hands-on opportunities with the console prior to its launch on March 3.
For a look at everything you can expect to play on Switch so far, check out our feature on all of the confirmed Nintendo Switch games.
How much Will Nintendo's online service cost?
Early adopters of the Switch will have access to its online service for free up until an unannounced date in the Fall. Nintendo intends to then charge for the service, which is a first in their history.
There were no indications of how much it’ll cost and what lengths of membership will be offered. Common predictions land around $50 a year. Both Microsoft and Sony offer their online services for $60 a year, but Nintendo isn’t expected to roll out something as robust, which would make a cheaper price reasonable. Like their competitors, Nintendo will also package free games each month for subscribers.
It’s also worth noting that many of Nintendo’s online features will be integrated in a smartphone application, indirectly affecting the actual cost of utilizing the service.
What's going to happen to Virtual Console?
Like many specific details on the Switch, Nintendo intends on releasing more information at a later time. This includes the fate of the virtual console and purchases made on previous systems. There’s reason to believe that many virtual console assets will transfer to the Switch, however. The newly implemented Nintendo Account will encompass everything done with the Switch online.
Furthermore, Reggie Fils-Aime stated, “[W]e now have the capability to tie consumers’ purchases to a particular account. So, that opens up a range of executions for us to address that consumer desire and need.”
Virtual console games that will be playable on the Switch are yet to be determined.
How will backwards compatibility work?
By virtue of moving to SDXC cards for games and storage capacity, physical Wii and Wii U games will not be backwards compatible. It was previously confirmed that physical 3DS cartridges will not be compatible as well. These games will have to be offered digitally. However, as mentioned earlier with virtual console functionality, games already acquired digitally are likely to be redeemable on the Switch.
Nintendo also confirmed to Kotaku that controllers designed for past systems won't work for Switch. However, it did clarify that support for certain controllers may be considered for a future update.
Will Nintendo add trophies/achievements?
In the past, Nintendo’s spin on a trophy or achievement system has been more about personal reward rather than badges of honor. Wii U games, for example, often provide stamps you can use in Miiverse when you complete certain trophy-like requirements, but there isn’t a way to compile hard-earned accomplishments over a bunch of games. It hasn't been Nintendo’s style to make that happen, but since the Switch is getting a revamped online subscription service and a compatible app for playing with friends, that might change.
What's the fighting game stick for?
Leaked documents from third party accessory manufacturer Hori revealed an arcade fighting game stick for Nintendo Switch. While it's safe to assume it's going to be compatible for the upcoming Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, it's possible that such a dedicated accessory is a sign of more fighting games to come for Switch. Could the console get the recently announced Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite? Or maybe a port of Street Fighter V?
What will Switch have for multimedia functions (Netflix, etc.)?
Nintendo has not said much about what Switch owners can expect in terms of multimedia functions and that's a little worrying. Will there be an app for Netflix? YouTube? Hulu? Hopefully, but we don't know yet. Unfortunately, a Nintendo representative told Business Insider that there wouldn't be much for multimedia functions at launch. Of course, these apps could come later. The Wii U and 3DS both have Netflix apps, so it might just be a matter of time before one comes to the Switch.
Are there any performance advantages when Switch is docked?
While it's confirmed that Switch's GPU output varies when docked or undocked (768 MHz docked vs. 307.2MHz undocked), it remains to be seen how different games will be rendered on a TV and the console's integrated screen. In terms of resolution, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild renders at 900p docked, while it runs at 720p undocked. It might be safe to assume this trait is shared among all Switch games. But like the Switch's battery life in regards to different games, can we expect each game to also have different performance advantages when docked and undocked, like framerate changes or graphical improvements?
Is Switch actively cooled (with a fan?) or passively cooled (just a heat sink)?
While we know for certain that the tablet component of Nintendo Switch has a vent on the top edge, Nintendo hasn't detailed whether there's a fan or merely a passive heatsink on the inside. Chances are that there is a fan, but given that Switch will push its processor harder when docked, it's possible the hypothetical fan will only turn on when the system is docked to ensure the system isn't hot to the touch when a player removes the tablet from the dock. That's just a guess of course, and it's entirely possible that the fan--if there is one--will turn on whether Switch is docked or not; hopefully that isn't the case!
What's the storage capacity of the game cards?
Not much is known about the maximum storage capacity of Switch's game cards. Nintendo confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is approximately 13.4 GB, which offers us a solid example of how large Switch games might be. However, with little else to go on, it's still unclear how much game cards can hold. The industry standard dual layer Blu-ray disc holds up to 50 GB, so it might be safe to assume that Switch game cards will try to match that. There's also a fair chance that the capacity will fluctuate based on the game so that nintendo isn't spending a lot of money on excess flash storage production.
Can Switch output 4K games and movies? How about HDR?
Nintendo did not go into detail whether or not Switch can output games and video streaming services in 4K or HDR. However, the Switch utilizes a an Nvidia Tegra chip processor, which has allowed other hardware equipped with it to stream 4K video, so there's a good chance that Switch 4K output will be possible. With 4K and HDR support available for both Sony's and Microsoft's consoles, we're curious if Nintendo will follow suit on both fronts.
What's the format of capture button screens/videos and what platforms can they be shared?
Both the Switch Joy-Con (L) controller and Pro Controller sports a Capture button, which allows you to capture game screenshots. Nintendo also confirmed that the button will eventually allow you to capture footage. You can share the content via social media channels; however, where you can share them have not been revealed. It's also unclear what format the screenshots and footage will come in.
Is Mother 3 ever going to come out?
Mother 3 was not confirmed to appear as a virtual console title on Switch. However, during our interview with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, he reassured the company has "a good understanding of what our consumers want," commenting further that it's "aware that there are some key IP that consumers just can't wait for the next true installment in that franchise's legacy."
While not a full confirmation, it's the best that fans have to go off of for the time being.