Back in March 2015, the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed a new “dedicated game platform” during a Q&A presentation for investors, code-named NX. Back then it was just a way to show them, and fans, that Nintendo wouldn’t be leaving the traditional gaming space any time soon, but little did the company know that within the years that followed it’d be come the hot topic of leaks, theories and reveals, with a hype train that showed no signs of slowing down once it kicked into full throttle in mid-2016.
So join us as we walk down the tracks that led to this point, the Switch’s first birthday.
2015 was pretty quiet on the NX front as Nintendo was still relatively heavily supporting both the Wii U and 3DS at that point, with big games like Xenoblade Chronicles X and Majora’s Mask 3D. Still, we heard a few rumors, like those that predicted the system would be both a console and a portable with a 720p screen. Granted, these were off the mark in suggesting the Switch would be a software platform rather than a unified device, but the core idea was sound. Also erroneous were reports that an achievement system would be in place and there’d be no physical media.
After that we get a rumor from a source that’ll pop up quite frequently – the Wall Street Journal. In October 2015 the broadsheet reported that development kits were being distributed to partners and once again there’s a reference to the system’s portable and console nature, though this time they’re referenced as being bundled together. We also saw a reference to “industry leading chips” to keep the NX competitive, something which later turned out to be true thanks to Nintendo’s partnership with Nvidia.
Another common rumor source also popped up this early – Chinese manufacturing company Foxconn. Insider leaks suggested the NX would start mass production in 2016, which ended up being true with trial production of the Switch beginning towards the end of the year.
Square Enix was also at the forefront of the NX conversation, with the company essentially confirming that Dragon Quest XI would head to the enigmatic system as early as July 2015. Later, Bill Trinen briefly referenced the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but this was most likely a joke. Still, that’s quite the port to imagine!
As mentioned earlier, 2016 is when the NX hype went into full gear. It seemed like every other week there was a new rumor, with some being way off the mark while others turned out true. We even saw perhaps the most infamous hoax in recent history – the oval NX controller, which had the internet so riled up they even tried to track down a reflected tree.
One of the more common rumors from this period centered on a Super Smash Bros. port to the system within the first year. Despite multiple sources claiming it’d be the case, some of whom were later spot-on, the hotly anticipated title has yet to even be mentioned by Nintendo.
Once E3 rolled around we got our first announced game for the NX and it wasn’t one we expected. Aisha Tyler, host of the Ubisoft E3 press conference, revealed Just Dance 2017 would release for the system, beating Nintendo’s own Breath of the Wild confirmation a few days later.
Then, a couple days into E3 2016, a Nintendo of Canada representative said NX news would come in the fall. The wait was on.
Pieces fall in place
A month after E3, the most accurate rumor of them all emerged. Both Eurogamer and the Wall Street Journal reported that the NX would be a hybrid device, mashing together both console and handheld elements thanks to a collaboration with Nvidia. Eurogamer even supplied a sketch of the device which, while not entirely accurate, shows the clear Switch lineage.
From then on even more announcements and rumors filled in the picture. Sonic Forces was confirmed, Dragon Quest Builders was teased, the split D-Pad and capture button were rumored… As the Wii U wound down, everyone was raring to go for the full announcement. Then, all it took was a smiling Mario and a curtain to break the internet.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) October 20, 2016
Behind the Curtain
On October 19th, 2016, Nintendo fully unveiled the NX with its proper title, the Nintendo Switch. Zelda and Mario were along for the ride, the Inklings made a brief appearance, while surprise third party support was teased with Skyrim and NBA 2K17.
After over a year of rumor mongering we finally knew where Nintendo’s future was going, yet we had another wait in store. The October reveal was just a tease and it wasn’t until the new year that we finally got our full run-down of the system with the bizarre yet endearing Nintendo Switch Presentation. For its one year anniversary we dived deep into that event, so be sure to check out its article to stroll down memory lane.
With the confirmation of the Switch’s release date and pricing we just had the lead up to launch to go, but the industry didn’t stop with its reveals. Fire Emblem Warriors was fully shown off just days after the presentation, plenty of indies were confirmed, and leaked development tools gave us a clue as to the system’s specifications and themes.
When March 3rd finally arrived it was pretty clear the Switch was something special, especially when directly compared to the launches of the Wii U and 3DS. Huge games like Zelda brought out the hardcore fans in droves, while the eShop was bolstered by a surprising number of downloadable titles to keep people busy. Even now, a year later, it’s clear how important Nintendo’s Nindie initiative has been to keeping the system in the limelight.
Making the Switch
Video game rumors are always a fun ride, anyone who has witnessed the lead up to a new Pokémon generation will be fully aware of that fact, but the journey to the Nintendo Switch was something else. It was the perfect storm of speculation, with Nintendo required to do something drastic to keep itself financially secure plenty of armchair detectives had their own theories for how it’d go. Would the company try to match the PS4 and Xbox One? Would it attempt the Wii U concept yet again? Will it go fully portable?
As time eventually told us, all of those are essentially true. The Switch blends together years of experience and market trends to create something that truly stands out and it has clearly paid off, with the system scheduled to hit 17 million units sold worldwide by March 31st. It looks like the NX is here to stay.