No, the Switch isn’t even on the market yet. (So close!)
Yes, I’m already looking ahead to what’s next.
I want to put a prediction down, timestamped and dated, so that I can say “I told you so!” when it turns out to be true.
Let’s start with the facts before we get into prediction territory (plus I want to keep you in suspense a little while longer.
Many aspects of the Switch were “leaked” by patent sleuths who were keeping an eye on what Nintendo was filing.
At the end of one particular and very long series of patents, we find this:
Ladies and gentleman, that there is a Nintendo Switch Virtual Reality (VR) patent filing!
Were this patent to become a product, its usage would be fairly simple: strap on the headset, slide the Switch tablet into the slot, and play! Individual Joy-Con would be perfect controllers for a VR experience, with motion control, analog sticks, and a handful of face and shoulder buttons.
Really, this filing is quite ingenious. But, Nintendo can’t be credited for this implementation of VR – plenty of Samsung and Google devices have been doing this for years. So, why is Nintendo trying to patent it?
I’m not sure about the answer to that question, but it could be that they are filing for protection of the idea of using a home console itself in a VR headset. Or perhaps, only making a headset for the Switch console would infringe this particular patent. I don’t speak the legalese to give a firm answer, but I can certainly deduce the gaming implications of this document.
After this leak occurred, many fans hoped they would see a Virtual Reality segment during the January Switch Presentation. I knew we wouldn’t.
There’s one big problem with making the above patent a real product: the resolution of the screen. For those that own a PS4 already, PlayStation VR is on the lower end of the cost barrier, and that solution provides a 1920×1080 (full HD) display, which could be considered the bare minimum for virtual reality.
With VR, the screen is mounted very close to your eyes. That’s why Oculus Rift and other VR-equipped smartphones have such high pixel density – you don’t want to be distracted by pixels in the screen a few inches away from your face.
This is what would happen if it was done with the current Switch model.
For this reason, I don’t believe we’ll see Nintendo step into the VR market with this iteration of their console… which brings us to my prediction:
I predict: Nintendo will release an upgraded Switch model midway through the console’s lifecycle.
Name: Switch Vision
Release Date: Holiday 2020
Resolution: 4k (allowing for 2k to be used on each eye)
Headset: Can charge separately, lends extra battery to the tablet
Backward Compatibility: Works with all existing games and accessories
Exclusive Software: Special VR-enabled games will be produced, 3 main titles from Nintendo (Mario spinoff, Metroid, New IP)
SKUs: Purchase the tablet-only for previous Switch owners, or a bundle option for new customers
Can you picture the marketing? Switch Vision – 2020.
The industry is well adjusted to mid-console cycle upgrades. Is this so far-fetched? I don’t believe so, especially with an official patent document showing that Nintendo is at the very least interested in this technology. Of course, many of their patents never see the light of day as finalized products that make it to the market… but…
Should it happen, remember that you heard it here first!