One of the biggest questions about Nintendo’s next console is how it will treat everyone who’s built up a massive library of games on the Switch. Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser isn’t ready to spill the beans about the Switch 2 yet, but he is teasing a smoother transition to the company’s next console in a new interview with Inverse.
Following reports that Nintendo recently showed off its successor to the Switch behind closed doors at Gamescom, questions have been swirling about the new console’s specs and potential backwards compatibility with the existing hardware. Will a Switch 2 support physical cartridges and digital downloads? Or will players have to buy some of the best games Nintendo’s ever made all over again?
Bowser wouldn’t comment on the Switch 2 reports but he did say that Nintendo Accounts, which track user data across consoles, will be a key part of bringing players over to the next console. “In the past, every device we transitioned to had a whole new account system,” he told Inverse. Creating the Nintendo Account will allow us to communicate with our players if and when we make a transition to a new platform, to help ease that process or transition.”
Our goal is to minimize the dip you typically see in the last year of one cycle and the beginning of another. I can’t speak to the possible features of a new platform, but the Nintendo Account is a strong basis for having that communication as we make the transition.
While that’s not a guarantee that everything will carry over between the Switch and Switch 2, or whatever Nintendo’s next gaming machine is, it’s at least an attempt to potentially assuage some fans’ concerns about the move. That’s not nothing, especially coming from a company that has historically been happy to try completely new things from one console cycle to the next and get players to buy games they already own all over again on new platforms. Plus any dramatic departures this time around would mean abandoning the Switch’s 130 million install base, a risky move as competition between platforms gets more fierce.
Competitors like Microsoft and Sony have already been doing this with the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5, both of which register users’ purchase from the prior console generation. While Nintendo hasn’t always been at the cutting edge of online functionality, it does have a pretty good track record with backwards compatibility. The Wii supported GameCube discs, and the Wii U supported Wii discs. On the handheld side, the DS supported Game Boy Advance cartridges and the 3DS supported DS cartridges. Hopefully the Switch 2 follows a similar pattern. Nintendo has previously stated that it won’t announce new hardware until April 2024 at the earliest.