Sure we only know about some ports, remakes, and a Peach game, but this is year 8 of a console and a new one is coming. Right?
This time last year, we only knew about five video games confirmed to be coming out from Nintendo on the Switch in 2023. Those comprised four games in the first five months and an unidentified Pikmin release. We had all sorts of chatter back then about nothing of importance hitting the Switch after the May release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Now that we’ve made it through 2023, we now know those concerns were absolute malarkey.
Beyond those five confirmed for 2023 games, we had around 10 more come out throughout the year. We had the shadowdrops of Metroid Prime Remastered, Pikmin 1+2, and F-Zero 99. We had the surprise Mario games in Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Super Mario RPG. We had a new WarioWare, the long-awaited Detective Pikachu sequel, and a 1-2-Switch sequel no one asked for. It was, by most accounts, a really solid year for Nintendo in what will likely be the waning days of the Switch.
And now we’re in 2024, looking ahead to a year that has similar unknowns. Much like 2023, we only know about five games that are publicly confirmed for 2024. Three of them have release dates, with Another Code Recollection in January, Mario vs. Donkey Kong in February, and Princess Peach: Showtime in March. Luigi’s Mansion 2 HD and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door are currently slated for release sometime this year, likely in spring and summer respectively. Beyond that, we have a lot of unknowns and some DLC in the form of Splatoon 3’s expansion. Metroid Prime 4 is still a specter, hanging out ominously in the background.
It is noticeable that of the five games known for 2024, four of them are ports and remakes, with Princess Peach’s latest adventure being the only wholly brand new game. Also, we are about to enter the Switch’s eighth year, so this is frankly just an unprecedented territory for Nintendo. But this year might be different because Nintendo might have a new console launch. So let’s dig into some past precedents to see if we can use those to divine what we might expect from 2024.
So for the Switch, we first officially found out about the system in October 2016 - five months before the system came out. We got the official rollout of launch date and details in January 2017 - less than two months before. As far as the official reveal of a system, the Switch was a wildly quick turnaround. The 3DS was known for nine months before launch. The Wii U was officially known for nearly 18 months before launch. But in both cases, the rollout of launch date and details was similar to the Switch, with the Wii U and 3DS getting their launch lineups confirmed about two months prior to launch.
Using that, we can reasonably assume that Nintendo will give us a launch date and lineup about two months before a Switch’s successor’s release. They’ve been remarkably consistent about that for the past 20 years. I won’t quite call it a guarantee but I would be surprised if that doesn’t hold true.
But when will Nintendo officially acknowledge the existence of a new platform? I’d personally say as early as February, as that’s when Nintendo is next scheduled to address shareholders during their earnings release for the third quarter of this current fiscal year. Though more realistically we might not hear about anything until the spring or even summer. From there, it depends when this new platform comes out, as frankly Nintendo can pattern the release similarly to the Switch.
Using that as the guideline, let’s paint some potential reveal timelines.
Here’s what I’d say is the most likely: Nintendo formally announces the new console in June 2024, following that up with an exact release date and details in September in line for a November launch.
Of course there’s also the pessimistic view of something almost directly mapping to the Switch’s playbook. Maybe the new console doesn’t get the full reveal until October, lining up for a January 2025 launch date confirmation and a March 2025 release. Hey - it worked for the Switch!
But there’s also a more aggressive and dare I say exciting option. Nintendo could formally announce this sucker in April 2024, leading to a summer launch date details drop and a September or October launch. I’d favor that slightly more because Nintendo has been favoring putting out their marquee games earlier in the holidays than ever before. Nintendo’s biggest holiday title of 2023 came out in October in the form of Super Mario Wonder. You could even argue Tears of the Kingdom was Nintendo’s biggest 2023 holiday title and that was released months before the holiday season. In 2022, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were November releases but The Pokemon Company sometimes marches to the beat of their own drum. Purely from Nintendo, Splatoon 3 was the biggest holiday title and that hit in September. 2021 was a similar story, with Pokemon’s Diamond and Pearl remakes taking the previously prime November period while Mario Party Superstars and Metroid Dread were both released in October, even if you could easily claim Mario Party and Metroid aren’t major releases.
At this point, it feels like October has taken over November for the highest concentration of marquee games. It extends beyond Nintendo, as Sony and Microsoft are releasing their major holiday games in September and October. Even your Ubisofts and EAs are putting out their biggest games in October instead. Call of Duty and Pokemon seem like the only two mainstays that hit consistently in November, and Call of Duty has had the occasional October release. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X both came out in November in 2020, but 2020 is also a unicorn year and I’m not sure how much we can divine from peak COVID entertainment launches.
To summarize, Nintendo’s 2024 will be fine, likely dominated by remakes and ports before we get closer to a new console launch. We still definitely have more games on Switch to look forward to, even if some of them might be cross-gen. Beyond that, we should probably find out about the next system by the summer. And also there’s probably a new Pokemon game in November. That just seems to happen every year unless there’s DLC, and we just had DLC in 2023’s holiday season.