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Nintendo Switch
The logo for the Nintendo Switch console, consisting of two heavily stylized Joy-Con controllers accompanied by the text "NINTENDO SWITCH" below.

The optional and more conventional Pro Controller

Other

The Nintendo Switch supports a wide array of additional accessories, according to Kimishima. Kimishima suggested that the Switch is part of a large ecosystem of devices, though the Switch unit remains the core console element.[123] Takahashi suggested the possibility of other units besides the Joy-Con that could attach and/or connect to the console to serve as alternate input devices and change how the Switch can be used.[22]

Nintendo offers a Joy-Con Wheel, a small The Nintendo Switch supports a wide array of additional accessories, according to Kimishima. Kimishima suggested that the Switch is part of a large ecosystem of devices, though the Switch unit remains the core console element.[123] Takahashi suggested the possibility of other units besides the Joy-Con that could attach and/or connect to the console to serve as alternate input devices and change how the Switch can be used.[22]

Nintendo offers a Joy-Con Wheel, a small steering w

Nintendo offers a Joy-Con Wheel, a small steering wheel-like unit that a Joy-Con can slot into, allowing it to be used for racing games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.[49] Standalone docks are available, which include a power adapter and HDMI cable.[49] Third parties also support the Switch with additional accessories, such as carrying cases and screen protectors.[124] The 4.0.0 system update enabled support for GameCube controllers connected via USB with the GameCube adapter that was available for the Wii U as well as a new adapter produced for the Switch; GameCube controllers can be used with most games compatible with the Switch's Pro controller, such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.[125][126][127][128] USB computer keyboards are supported for certain tasks, such as text entry. Special Joy-Con controllers based on the design of both the NES and SNES controllers were available to subscribers of the Nintendo Switch Online service for use with NES and SNES games.

In January 2018, Nintendo announced Nintendo Labo, a child-oriented platform that combines games coupled with do-it-yourself cardboard projects that attach or wrap around the Switch Console and Joy-Con, effectively creating toys around the Switch hardware to interact with games. These cardboard units, which may also include string, rubber bands, and other pieces, are referred to as Toy-Con. The game software provides instructions for the Toy-Con construction and provides the interface to control the Toy-Con. Such examples given include a remote-controlled "car", where the two Joy-Con attach to the car and their vibration feedback provide the motion for the car, controlled from the Switch, a fishing rod where the Joy-Con are part of the reel and handle of the rod and their motion controls used to simulate the act of fishing in the mini-game, and a small toy piano.[129]

Nintendo released Ring Fit Adventure in October 2019, which includes a Leg Strap to mount a Joy-Con to a leg, and the Ring-Con, a flexible hard plastic ring with Joy-Con mounting. The player interacts with the game, fashioned after a console role-playing game, by doing various exercises, such as running in place, squatting, and squeezing the ring, to perform in-game actions of running, jumping, and attacking and defending, respectively.[130] Such features are part of Nintendo's "quality of life" goals to incorporate physical activity alongside the Switch, similar to past titles like Ring Fit Adventure in October 2019, which includes a Leg Strap to mount a Joy-Con to a leg, and the Ring-Con, a flexible hard plastic ring with Joy-Con mounting. The player interacts with the game, fashioned after a console role-playing game, by doing various exercises, such as running in place, squatting, and squeezing the ring, to perform in-game actions of running, jumping, and attacking and defending, respectively.[130] Such features are part of Nintendo's "quality of life" goals to incorporate physical activity alongside the Switch, similar to past titles like Wii Fit.[131]

In February 2017, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that it had been "studying" virtual reality solutions, but felt that comfort was a main concern. Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé also cited that existing VR solutions were not "fun" or "social".[132] Nintendo ultimately unveiled a new Labo VR kit in March 2019, using a cardboard headset and viewer placed in front of the console's screen, in combination with attached accessories.[133][134]

Stands and alternate docks have also been created for the Switch to overcome the limitations of the device's own kickstand for tabletop play, including an official "Adjustable Charging Stand" that can be connected to the device's AC adapter.[135][136]

Original Switch models were released with model number "HAC-001". The Switch uses a system-on-chip from the Tegra family of products, developed in partnership with Nvidia.[101][137] No specific details were revealed beyond that it is a "custom" Tegra chip "based on the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards" that are common in personal computers, and has a custom API known as "NVN", which is designed to "bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses".[39][138] Takeda described the Nvidia chipset as being critical for delivering gamers a level of performance similar to that which they experience on personal computers, helping to achieve "high performance but low power consumption" for the Switch.[139] Pre-release reports, unconfirmed by either Nintendo or Nvidia, stated that the SoC would be a standard Nvidia Tegra X1 instead, composed of four ARM Cortex-A57 and four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores along with 256 Maxwell-based CUDA GPU cores.[140][141] This was later corroborated by an analysis on the console done by Tech Insights in March 2017.[142][143] The CPU cores are clocked at 1.020 GHz. While the SoC features 8 CPU cores, the Switch only uses the 4 Cortex-A57 cores, of which 1 is reserved to the operating system.[1] The GPU cores are clocked at 768 MHz when the device is docked, and in handheld mode, fluctuating between the following speeds: 307.2 MHz, 384 MHz, and 460 MHz.[3][2] This gives the Switch's GPU a theoretical peak performance of 393 GFLOPS in docked mode and 236 GFLOPS in handheld mode.[2] A later iFixit teardown of the final product confirmed 4GB of LPDDR4.[144] It's clocked at 1600 MHz in docked mode, while at a reduced 1331.2 MHz in handheld mode.[3]

The Switch offers Wi-Fi 5 (dual-band 802.11ac wireless connectivity compliant with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac modes).[137] Up to eight Switch consoles can be connected in a wireless ad hoc network for local multiplayer games, and multiple players can play on each of the connected Switch consoles.[145][39][146] In the case of at least one game, Splatoon 2, ten Switch consoles can connect in the ad hoc network, though only eight can play directly while the other two can watch as spectators.[147] The Switch uses Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless communication between the console and its controllers.[105][137] Users can purchase a third-party USB LAN adapter for wired connectivity when the console is docked for TV mode.[137] Nintendo's Wii LAN adapter accessory is also compatible with the Switch via USB ports on the Switch dock.[148]

The Switch is primarily powered in portable mode by a non-removable 4310 mAh, 3.7 V Lithium-ion rechargeable battery.[104][149][150] The battery life is estimated to be between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the software being used. Nintendo gives the example of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild supporting approximately three hours of battery life.[101] The battery can be charged either while in the dock, or through a standard USB-C connector on the console.[47] The estimated recharge time while the unit is in sleep mode is about 3 hours.[115] Nintendo offers the means for replacing batteries through its customer support.[137] Each Joy-Con has its own non-removable 525 mAh, 3.7 V Lithium-ion battery separate from the con

The Switch offers Wi-Fi 5 (dual-band 802.11ac wireless connectivity compliant with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac modes).[137] Up to eight Switch consoles can be connected in a wireless ad hoc network for local multiplayer games, and multiple players can play on each of the connected Switch consoles.[145][39][146] In the case of at least one game, Splatoon 2, ten Switch consoles can connect in the ad hoc network, though only eight can play directly while the other two can watch as spectators.[147] The Switch uses Bluetooth 4.1 for wireless communication between the console and its controllers.[105][137] Users can purchase a third-party USB LAN adapter for wired connectivity when the console is docked for TV mode.[137] Nintendo's Wii LAN adapter accessory is also compatible with the Switch via USB ports on the Switch dock.[148]

The Switch is primarily powered in portable mode by a non-removable 4310 mAh, 3.7 V Lithium-ion rechargeable battery.[104][149][150] The battery life is estimated to be between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the software being used. Nintendo gives the example of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild supporting approximately three hours of battery life.[101] The battery can be charged either while in the dock, or through a standard USB-C connector on the console.[47] The estimated recharge time while the unit is in sleep mode is about 3 hours.[115] Nintendo offers the means for replacing batteries through its customer support.[137] Each Joy-Con has its own non-removable 525 mAh, 3.7 V Lithium-ion battery separate from the console, with an estimated twenty-hour lifespan.[105] These batteries are automatically charged if they are attached to the console while it is charging itself. Additional accessories have other means to charge the Joy-Con.[119] While the basic Joy-Con grip that ships with the Switch does not offer charging capabilities, a separate premium Joy-Con grip includes a USB-C connector port that can be used to charge the Joy-Con batteries while they are connected to this grip.[151]

The Switch includes 32 GB of internal storage,[101][137] 25.9 GB of which is user-accessible.[152] This can be expanded up to 2 TB using a microSD, a microSDHC or a microSDXC card.[153][137] A microSD card slot is located under the Switch's kickstand, where a microSD card can be inserted.[154] If the microSD card is used, the Switch will only store game save data on the internal memory, leaving data that can be re-acquired on the microSD card.[155] Save data will always be stored on the console, regardless if the source is a physical game card or a digital download copy. At launch, there was no way to transfer save files from the internal memory to the microSD card or another Switch console.[156][157] Save game and profile transfers between Switch consoles were added in the 4.0.0 system update in October 2017,[158] while the 10.0.0 system update in April 2020 allowed most game data, saved games, and other downloaded content to be swapped between the internal memory and a microSD card.[159] MicroSD and microSDHC were supported initially, and microSDXC card support was later added to the Switch's software via a system update.[115][137] SD cards and miniSD cards do not fit the Switch.[160] The Switch did not support external storage units at launch, but Nintendo stated that they were looking into adding this feature in the future.[155]

The Switch console has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. It does not support Bluetooth wireless headphones, though they can be connected if a Bluetooth adaptor is connected to the headphone jack.[161][162] A system update in October 2017 enabled support for wireless USB headphones when the receiver is connected to the USB port on the console when docked.[163][164]

An updated version of the Nintendo Switch under model number "HAC-001(-01)" was announced on July 17, 2019, and was released in Japan and North America in mid-August 2019, and in the United Kingdom in September 2019. This revision uses the Tegra X1+ SoC, a more efficient chipset compared to the Tegra X1 used in the original model. Thus, the time-on-battery was effectively extended to 4.5–9 hours, depending on the game played. No other system component was updated in this revision.[165][166][167][168][169]

Production

The Nin

The Nintendo Switch is produced between Taiwan-based Foxconn and Japan-based Hosiden, with Foxconn accounting for the largest volume.[170] Nintendo did not plan to sell the Switch below manufacturing cost at launch,[171] as they had done for both the 3DS and Wii U at their respective launches;[172] Nintendo affirmed that the Switch would be profitable from launch during its 2016 fiscal year earnings report, as the company saw the console as a key earnings driver for 2017 and beyond.[173] Fomalhaut Techno Solutions, a Japanese product teardown firm, estimated that the Switch cost $257 to make compared to its $299 MSRP, with the console and dock at $167 while each Joy-Con cost $45.[174] Kimishima said that they may be able to see further profitability on the Switch when they can achieve volume discounts on components once they reach a level of about 10 million Switch units.[175]

Prior to launch, Nintendo anticipated shipping two million Nintendo

Prior to launch, Nintendo anticipated shipping two million Nintendo Switch units by the end of the console's first month, and assured that its supply chain would be able to meet demand following the launch period to avoid the shortage situation with the NES Classic Edition in late 2016.[176][95][177] Kimishima anticipated that the Switch will have lifetime sales numbers similar to the Wii, which sold 101 million units by 2016.[97]

Following the initial sales report numbers in April 2017, the Financial Times reported that the company was seeking to produce 18 million Switch units in its 2017 financial year as to avoid "customer tantrums" with poor supply levels, particularly near the 2017 holiday season and the release of Super Mario Odyssey on October 27, 2017.[178] Fils-Aimé said in September 2017 that their 2017 production target for the Switch could be hampered by bottlenecks in individual components.[179][180] DigiTimes reported in October 2017 that Nintendo had further shifted the production rate for the Switch up to 2 million per month, with plans to ship 20 million units by the end of the year; the newspaper also stated that the production rate was limited by component availability, and not by other factors of Nintendo's production process.[170]

On the presentation of the 2017 fiscal year results to investors, Nintendo's newly named president Shuntaro Furukawa stated that they anticipate producing 20 million Switch consoles over the 2018 fiscal year keeping the momentum of its sales in that year.[181]

In June 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo was starting to move some of its production of the Switch and two hardware revisions of the Switch outside of China and into Southeast Asia to limit the impact of new United States tariffs on electronics made in China.[182][183]

On July 10, 2019, Nintendo announced a version of the Nintendo Switch dedicated to handheld play called the Nintendo Switch Lite. The Switch Lite is a single unit, integrating the Joy-Con as part of the main unit's hardware, and uses a smaller screen measuring 5.5 inches (14 cm) diagonally. Additionally, a regular directional pad replaces the four directional buttons on the integrated left Joy-Con. While using a smaller battery than the original Switch, the Switch Lite uses a more power-efficient chipset, the 16-nanometer Tegra X1+, to extend the estimated use time from 2.5-6.5 hours to 3–7 hours on a single battery charge.[165] Because of the integrated Joy-Con, the Switch Lite is primarily limited to those games that can be played in handheld mode, while some other games like 1-2-Switch require separate Joy-Con to be used.

The Switch Lite was released worldwide on September 20, 2019 with an MSRP of US$199.99.[184]

Additional models

In early 2019, in addition to reports of a light-weight revision of the Switch hardware, The Wall Street Journal and Nikkei reported on a rumored more powerful unit that they said was set to arrive in 2020.[185][186] Potential revisions to the Switch were also observed by a notification Nintendo had sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) alerting the FCC to changes in the Switch's System-on-a-Chip and NAND memory from its original design in July 2019.[187] DigiTimes corroborated reports of a new hardware version of the Switch, stating Nintendo planned to release a new version with an

The Switch Lite was released worldwide on September 20, 2019 with an MSRP of US$199.99.[184]

In early 2019, in addition to reports of a light-weight revision of the Switch hardware, The Wall Street Journal and Nikkei reported on a rumored more powerful unit that they said was set to arrive in 2020.[185][186] Potential revisions to the Switch were also observed by a notification Nintendo had sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) alerting the FCC to changes in the Switch's System-on-a-Chip and NAND memory from its original design in July 2019.[187] DigiTimes corroborated reports of a new hardware version of the Switch, stating Nintendo planned to release a new version with an improved CPU and magnesium alloy body in the second half of 2020.[188] In its financial statement for the quarter ending December 31, 2019, Nintendo stated there are no plans for new Switch consoles through 2020, and instead their priority is to help better communicate the advantages of the Switch Lite over the Switch to boost its sales.[189]

Bloomberg and Economic Daily News from Taiwan reported in August 20

Bloomberg and Economic Daily News from Taiwan reported in August 2020 further industry speculation of a more powerful Switch due to arrive in early 2021 based on discussions with Nintendo's manufacturing suppliers citing the company's current requests.[190] Bloomberg also reported in September 2020 from several developers that Nintendo has told them to prepare their games to make them ready to run at 4k resolution, further supporting the idea of an improved Switch model to be released soon.[191]

The Nintendo Switch runs on a custom-made operating system named Horizon, built on a microkernel architecture.[192] The Switch's user interface features tile-based access to games that are either present in the game card slot or stored within the unit's storage devices. It includes quick access buttons for a News feed from Nintendo, eShop access, and a photo album for screenshots captured during gameplay;[115] the 4.0 update to the software in October 2017 also enabled capturing and sharing video from select games.[158] A single Switch console supports up to eight user profiles, which each can be tied to a Nintendo Account user ID.[155] Profiles can be represented by either a pre-made avatar from an internal gallery, or using a Mii. The Mii creator was upgraded with increased color options for aspects such as hair styles; however, it is integrated into the system settings, rather than being an independent application.[193][155][194][195]

Prior to the 4.0 update, players discovered that the Switch's firmware included an easter egg to allow players to play the NES Golf title via a built-in emulator. While Nintendo has not confirmed its presence, journalists and players believe this is a tribute to Nintendo's former president Satoru Iwata; Golf was programmed by Iwata, and the game can only be accessed if the system clock is set to July 11 – the day that Iwata died – and the Joy-Con are moved similarly to how Iwata would move his hands in his Nintendo Direct presentations. Some Japanese users referred to this as an omamori (charm) left by Iwata himself.[196] With the 4.0 update, t

Prior to the 4.0 update, players discovered that the Switch's firmware included an easter egg to allow players to play the NES Golf title via a built-in emulator. While Nintendo has not confirmed its presence, journalists and players believe this is a tribute to Nintendo's former president Satoru Iwata; Golf was programmed by Iwata, and the game can only be accessed if the system clock is set to July 11 – the day that Iwata died – and the Joy-Con are moved similarly to how Iwata would move his hands in his Nintendo Direct presentations. Some Japanese users referred to this as an omamori (charm) left by Iwata himself.[196] With the 4.0 update, the executable code for this Easter egg appears to have been wiped by Nintendo.[197]

In August 2018, a Twitter user found files on the Switch's firmware while reverse-engineering the console, which suggest that Nintendo was possibly testing VR functionality for the Switch. The Twitter user was able to activate the hidden "VR Mode", which split the screen into two displays.[198][199] Hackers found that the code related to possible VR functionality had been hidden in the Switch for over a year.[199]

Nintendo continued its white hat security program that it had with the Nintendo 3DS. With help of third-party website HackerOne, Nintendo will award up to $20,000 to the first user to identify any vulnerability that impacts piracy, cheating, or potential sending of inappropriate content to younger users, the amount based on the severity of the security flaw.[200]

In April 2018, two separate groups discovered a means to use an

In April 2018, two separate groups discovered a means to use an exploit chain in the Tegra chip system that can be used to boot other software on the Switch, which could have both beneficial or malicious uses. The exploit is unpatchable as the necessary support to update the Tegra's ROM was not included on the Switch systems as shipped. Both groups had notified Nvidia and Nintendo of the exploit before public announcement of their findings.[201] Users studying the hardware determined that Nintendo has the capacity to permanently ban specific Switch consoles used to obtain software via this exploit from the Nintendo Network, as the Switch console includes a unique device identification code used as part of the validation to the Network. As games downloaded from the Nintendo Network include encrypted information that ties the Nintendo ID to the console, which is transmitted to Nintendo when users start playing games, Nintendo can track unapproved software downloads and take action.[202] Nintendo has reportedly fixed the vulnerability in newer Switch units as of July 2018.[203]

In June 2018, two hackers found a way to run the Switch system's developer software Devmenu on non-developer Switch units, allowing hackers to directly load games onto SD cards or create custom avatars for their user profile, including pornographic and NSFW pictures, which violate Nintendo's terms of service. A Nintendo spokesperson responded to Kotaku's article on the topic, saying that "Modified Nintendo Switch systems have been banned".[204]

Shortly after the release of Nintendo Switch Online in September 2018, hackers and modders were able to figure out how to run unauthorized ROMs on the Nintendo Switch NES emulator. A Switch hacker who goes by the name DevRin, was the first to discover the hack and posted his findings on YouTube, which prompted a modder who goes by the name KapuccinoHeck to investigate the matter with two others and their findings were later posted on KapuccinoHeck's Twitter account.[205][206]

Nintendo Switch user profiles can be linked to a Nintendo Account, which enables access to online features and the ability to download and purchase software from Nintendo eShop. A Nintendo Account can be created with an account from a third-party social networking service or an existing Nintendo Network ID from a 3DS or Wii U. Nintendo does not plan to offer first-party social networking services on Switch, such as Miiverse or StreetPass, the latter owing to Nintendo's promotion of Switch as primarily being a home console. Instead, profiles can be linked to existing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for social and sharing features.[207][208][209]

Players can register friends through Friend Codes as with previous Nintendo systems, searching for friends in the local network, through past multiplayer interactions, or through Nintendo Account profiles registered as friends on Nintendo mobile apps such as Miitomo and Super Mario Run.[210] Nintendo said in March 2017 that they have plans to provide other methods for registering friends, including through third-party social media and via Nintendo Network IDs.[211] Support for registering friends on the Switch via Facebook and Twitter was added on March 13, 2018 as part of the 5.0.0 system update.[212] The Switch has no native support for Nintendo Network IDs, but users can link their Nintendo Network ID credentials to a Nintendo Account profile, which enables the ability to add friends that they had already registered on their 3DS or Wii U, and share an eShop balance between all three platforms.Nintendo Account profiles registered as friends on Nintendo mobile apps such as Miitomo and Super Mario Run.[210] Nintendo said in March 2017 that they have plans to provide other methods for registering friends, including through third-party social media and via Nintendo Network IDs.[211] Support for registering friends on the Switch via Facebook and Twitter was added on March 13, 2018 as part of the 5.0.0 system update.[212] The Switch has no native support for Nintendo Network IDs, but users can link their Nintendo Network ID credentials to a Nintendo Account profile, which enables the ability to add friends that they had already registered on their 3DS or Wii U, and share an eShop balance between all three platforms.[213]

In line with Microsoft and Sony consoles, a subscription is required to access online multiplayer in most games.[214][215] The Nintendo Switch Online subscription includes access to online play, voice chat, access to an ongoing library of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games, cloud storage for save data on most games, as well as other special offers and promotions.[216][217][218][219][220] Free-to-play games such as Fortnite Battle Royale and Warframe are exempt from the subscription requirement for online play.[221][222][223][224]

The Nintendo Switch Online mobile app allows access to voice chat for Switch Online subscribers, as well as access to game-specific microsites. Unlike its competitors, voice chat is not supported via the console itself, requiring use of the app on a smartphone instead.[23][225] A separate app provides access to parental controls for the console.[214][226]

The Switch did not launch with any multimedia-oriented features, such as a web browser, a messaging system or support for video streaming services.[227][failed verification] Fils-Aimé said that because the Switch is geared as a gaming console that is far different from what their competitors offer, they had focused on achieving that goal first and foremost, and did not see media support as a differentiator from their competitors.[228]

Niconico, a popular Japanes

Niconico, a popular Japanese video service, launched for the Switch in Japan on July 13, 2017, and was the Switch's first third-party media app in any market.[229] Hulu was the first video streaming application released for the Switch in the United States on November 9, 2017.[230] A YouTube application was released on November 8, 2018.[231] Fils-Aimé said in June 2018 that conversations to bring Netflix to the Switch are "on-going".[232]

Korg Gadget, a music production app, was released for the Nintendo Switch on April 26, 2018.[233] InkyPen, a comics and manga subscription app, launched exclusively on the Switch worldwide on December 17, 2018.[234] Izneo, another comics and manga subscription service, was released for the Switch on February 28, 2019.[235] FUZE4, a text-based programming language app, was released in August 2019.[236]

Games for the Nintendo Switch can be obtained through either retail channels or digitally through the Nintendo eShop. Games distributed at retail are stored on proprietary cartridges, similar in design to the game cards used for Nintendo 3DS games, albeit smaller and thinner,[237] and is the first major home or hybrid video game system to make use of cartridges since the Nintendo 64. Due to their size, Nintendo coats each cartridge with denatonium benzoate, a non-toxic bitterant used to discourage children from ingesting them.[238] Nintendo offered a suggested retail price for Switch games at the console's launch of $60, equivalent to the price for new games on either the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.[239] Nintendo otherwise allows publishers to set the price for a game, only requiring the list price be the same for physical and digital releases, if a physical release is made. This has caused some games also available on other consoles to be priced higher on the Switch due to the costs of manufacturing the game card for the Switch version.[240] Online media outlets colloquially refer to this price hike as the "Switch tax".[241][242] The "Switch tax" also applies to many games that had been previously released on other platforms ported later to the Switch, where the Switch game price reflects the original price of the game when it was first released rather than its current price. It is estimated that the cost of Switch games is an average of 10% over other formats.[243]

Game cards at the time of the Switch's release had a 32GB capacity; Nintendo had planned to introduce 64GB game cards by the second half of 2018, but had to push this back.[244] Some physical games may still require content to be installed to internal storage, with some games using a significant portion of the internal memory if a microSD card is not available.[245] Other physical games which have a large amount of content may require a microSD card to be present in the Switch, such as NBA 2K18; such games are clearly marked on the cover to show these requirements.[246]

The Switch supports the ability for cloud gaming to run games that require more hardware capabi

Game cards at the time of the Switch's release had a 32GB capacity; Nintendo had planned to introduce 64GB game cards by the second half of 2018, but had to push this back.[244] Some physical games may still require content to be installed to internal storage, with some games using a significant portion of the internal memory if a microSD card is not available.[245] Other physical games which have a large amount of content may require a microSD card to be present in the Switch, such as NBA 2K18; such games are clearly marked on the cover to show these requirements.[246]

The Switch supports the ability for cloud gaming to run games that require more hardware capabilities than the Switch allows, running these games over a network with the game computations performed on server hardware. These games may be tied to specific regions due to purchasing options. Early examples of such games on the Switch include Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Phantasy Star Online 2 and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey which were primarily limited to Japanese releases,[247] while more recently Control and Hitman 3 will be offered through cloud gaming worldwide in 2020 and beyond.[248]

Unlike previous Nintendo home consoles, the Switch is region-free. This allows players to use cartridges or downloaded content from any part of the world, with the exception of Chinese game content which can only be played on Switch units manufactured for that country.[249] Nintendo recommends using the appropriate regional eShop for digital purposes for obtaining the best post-purchase support if needed.[108][155] Nintendo opted to go region-free to reduce the amount of workload and cost to both themselves and developers in having to manage two or more regional certification processes and different ROM cartridge production pathways for those regions.[250] Further, eShop purchases, while still tied to the Nintendo Account, are not tied to the specific Switch console, as was the case for previous Nintendo hardware. Once the user re-registers their account to a Switch, they have access to download all previous purchases; however, a user can only have their account registered on one console at a time, and downloaded software tied to an account cannot be used if that account is not registered to the device.[213] With the console's 6.0 system update, alongside the launch of the Online service in September 2018, a user can play games that they have purchased from the eShop on a second Switch console, though requiring continuous online connection and other restrictions.[251]

The Switch does not use optical discs, and does not have native backward compatibility with software from any previous Nintendo console.[252] The Switch is also not backwards compatible with other digital titles from previous consoles.[155]

Emulated versions of games from previous Nintendo systems are being offered through eShop and the Nintendo Switch Online service, although the blanket Virtual Console brand used for these releases on Wii, Wii U, and 3DS has been dropped.[253][254] In February 2017, Kimishima said that the Switch is powerful enough to emulate titles from previous Nintendo consoles.[23]

One of the generally perceived failures of the Wii U was a lack of support from third-party developers, leading to a weak library of games.[255] Nintendo was more aggressive in trying to bring on third-party developers, early in the Switch's development, to ensure a stronger lineup of games. Takahashi and Koizumi reached out to many of the third-parties directly to help gain their support early on.[22] Electronic Arts' executive Patrick Söderlund said that Nintendo had taken a different track with attracting third-party developers to the Switch and have engaged Electronic Arts and other major developers throughout the development of the Switch, listening to their input, to help make the Switch more successful.[256]

Nintendo also began gaining support of independent video game developers in the middle of 2016 to provide assistance to help them bring games to the Switch, led by Nintendo's head of partner management Damon Baker.[257] They had tried to draw in indie developers near the end of the Wii U's lifetime, providing indie game demos that were highlighted during E3 2015, but by this point, the Wii U had already been considered a failure.[257] Nintendo sees games such as Snipperclips as a model of their target for indie games, in which they worked to help provide Switch implementation support and software tools to these parties early in the console's lifecycle, according to Takahashi and Koizumi.[22] Some, like Yacht Club Games, who have ported Shovel Knight to the Switch, noted that some of the major innovations in the Switch, such as the Joy-Con, were not revealed to them until just prior to the January 2017 announcement.[258] Nintendo of America reached out to many independent developers and publishers, including Chucklefish, Team17, and Devolver Digital, to gain titles for the platform and make the process of publishing easier. Nintendo still curates which titles they allow on the system, using the company's past portfolio for evaluation, and still carefully time releases to keep a steady stream of new content. However, once a game is greenlit, pushing out patches and updates can be done rapidly and at no further cost to the developer.[259][260] Nintendo also offers the Switch's dev kit at 50,000 yen, or about $450, far under the cost of a comparable dev kit for other consoles, making it more amenable for smaller developers to afford and build for the unit.[261] Nintendo offers several of these indie games as "Nindies" through the eShop. Nintendo had anticipated that they would have at least sixty indie games released for the Switch through 2017, but ended up with over 320 titles by the end of 2017 as a result of the console's popularity.[262][263][264] Indie developers have found that Nintendo has also had a significant role in the promotion and marketing of their games, including using the games to help promote the Switch itself, in contrast to Microsoft or Sony. These developers also found Nintendo tries to keep a better rapport with fans of Nintendo's products, and help these fans identify Switch indie games they feel they will like the most, including those games that build on Nintendo's classic games from the NES, SNES, and Game Boy eras that can draw in a more global audience.[257] Baker says that while they do try to encourage indie developers to release their games as a Switch console exclusive, they do not force developers towards this, knowing that the developers must have a good business case for doing so.[257]

While many independent developers have praised Nintendo for better support for the Switch, others, speaking anonymously through Nintendo Life, noted that Nintendo seemed to have a "walled garden" approach with independent developers, a remnant from the WiiWare program that allowed a great deal of shovelware to be pushed onto it. These anonymous developers found that Nintendo was either eschewing some developers completely, or requiring them to have a well-known publishing partner or an inside person within Nintendo to be able to gain the rights to publish for the Switch.[265][266] Baker said that they encourage self-publishing, but do also place value on trust of established partners for their recommendations of what games would be best for the Switch.[250] Another factor limiting Nintendo is the availability of dev kits and other hardware at the start of the console's life. However, Baker does anticipate that Nintendo will be much more open in the future, once they have addressed the necessary issues for curation and discovery of titles via the eShop.[264]

During its official unveiling in October 2016, Nintendo deliberately opted not to provide a list of games for the system, as they "want people to touch the device in January [2017] and experience the software for themselves", according to Kimishima.[123] Instead, Nintendo announced some of the partners that had committed to supporting the Switch; contrasting Nintendo's struggles to gain third-party support on-launch for previous platforms, the company initially listed 48 third-party publishers, studios, and middleware developers.[39] Among these partners, Nintendo listed major publishers such as Activision, Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Sega, Square Enix, Take-Two, and Ubisoft.[39][267][268]

In the past, Nintendo had previously relied more on providing its own internally developed tools and libraries that third-party developers would use to develop games for earlier systems. With the Switch, the company went a different route. According to Takahashi, "we have been aiming to realize an environment in which a variety of different third-party developers are able to easily develop compatible software", taking advantage of the Nvidia chipset's support for many standard libraries that allows for ease of transition from other platforms to the Switch.[269] Unity Technologies, Epic Games, and the Khronos Group pledged support to help developers bring games to the Switch using their game engines and middleware, Unity, Unreal Engine 4, and the Vulkan and OpenGL graphical APIs, respectively;[270][271][272] for instance, the Unreal Engine toolkit was updated in February 2017 to provide beta testing for native support for Switch games, with full support added by May 2017.[273][274] In March 2018, Nintendo announced it has also gained support of YoYo Games' GameMaker Studio 2 engine for the Switch.[275] Miyamoto said that Nintendo's own developers have "mastered" engines like Unreal, so that while it would be unlikely that Nintendo would release a first-party title using such software, they can help support developers using these tools on the Switch.[269] Several indie developers who have previously worked on Nintendo's consoles said that the Switch was "the least demanding Nintendo console" they have developed for.[276][257]

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, originally announced as a Wii U exclusive, was released for the Switch as a launch title.[34][277][278] The console's reveal trailer showcased footage from new titles in Nintendo franchises, including Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2, as well as footage from NBA 2K18 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.[279] Although Nintendo and third-parties stated at that time that these were not necessarily representative of Switch titles,[280][281][282] all five titles were confirmed as Switch releases during the January 2017 press events.[47]

The Switch did not launch with any bundled games or have any pre-loaded games or game demos; Fils-Aimé stated that once they had decided on the price point and evaluated the forthcoming game lineup, they opted to allow consumers to choose which games to get rather than include

The Switch did not launch with any bundled games or have any pre-loaded games or game demos; Fils-Aimé stated that once they had decided on the price point and evaluated the forthcoming game lineup, they opted to allow consumers to choose which games to get rather than include one in the bundle and increase its price.[52][283] At least ten games were shipped or digitally available alongside the Switch in North America during launch day, including Nintendo's first-party titles The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2-Switch.

Fils-Aimé said that Nintendo planned a "steady cadence of content" for the Switch after launch, avoiding the perceived situation with gaps between major releases for Wii U software.[284] Kimishima said that Nintendo scheduled its first-party releases "to continue to provide new titles regularly without long gaps", as this "encourages consumers to continue actively playing the system, maintains buzz, and spurs continued sales momentum for Nintendo Switch."[177] Journalists noted that Nintendo appeared to be pledged to this approach following their schedule of planned releases of first-party games for the Switch as announced during E3 2017, with a new title roughly every month into early 2018.[285]

A key part of marketing the Switch was to be "crystal clear in our communication of what the product was and what the product could do", according to Fils-Aimé, so as to avoid similar issues with how they presented the Wii U.[286][285][287] While the Wii U was designed as a home console unit, Nintendo's lack of clarity on this point led to a general assumption that the unit, principally the Wii U GamePad, was more like a tablet, overshadowing the Wii U's other features (such as dual-screen play modes). Nintendo also believed that some consumers had mistaken the Wii U GamePad as being an accessory for the existing Wii console, rather than being the flagship feature of an entirely new platform.[288] Instead, for the Switch, Fils-Aimé said the company was "very aggressive and clearly communicating the proposition that it's a home console you can take on the go wherever and whenever you want".[286]

For example, the October 2016 trailer (considered significantly unlike Nintendo's past marketing efforts, according to Bloomberg[13]) was designed to show the various ways that the Switch can be used so that viewers would recognize that "each of its forms offer different play experiences for people to enjoy".[24] Kimishima said that the intent of the trailer was to show that the device was aimed across all player demographics, showcasing features that core gamers would recognize and appreciate to carry this intent.[13] A large amount of Nintendo's launch marketing for the console focused heavily on the launch title Breath of the Wild; Nintendo of America marketing executive, Nick Chavez, stated that the decision to showcase the new Zelda game was meant to promote it to both older viewers, who may have

For example, the October 2016 trailer (considered significantly unlike Nintendo's past marketing efforts, according to Bloomberg[13]) was designed to show the various ways that the Switch can be used so that viewers would recognize that "each of its forms offer different play experiences for people to enjoy".[24] Kimishima said that the intent of the trailer was to show that the device was aimed across all player demographics, showcasing features that core gamers would recognize and appreciate to carry this intent.[13] A large amount of Nintendo's launch marketing for the console focused heavily on the launch title Breath of the Wild; Nintendo of America marketing executive, Nick Chavez, stated that the decision to showcase the new Zelda game was meant to promote it to both older viewers, who may have grown up with the franchise's earliest games and are accustomed to modern open world games, and to a new generation of players.[289]

Nintendo aired its first-ever Super Bowl ad during the United States broadcast of Super Bowl LI. Set to the Imagine Dragons song "Believer",[290] the ad showcased the various play modes with the Switch and its launch titles, particularly Breath of the Wild, and upcoming releases; while an ad to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokémon was broadcast the previous year during Super Bowl 50, this ad was paid for by The Pokémon Company and not by Nintendo.[291][292][293] Chavez said of the ad, "There's no bigger stage in the U.S. on which to showcase the platform. I think it speaks to our confidence in the system."[289]

Additional television commercials followed the Super Bowl spot, which were to demonstrate Switch's use cases among different demographics, as well as "casual" and "core" gaming audiences.[289] Such ad venues included the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, the 2017 Kids' Choice Awards, and on programming blocks for Nickelodeon, Adult Swim, and Comedy Central.[290] Chavez emphasized that Nintendo's overall marketing for Switch was not be "just a six to eight week launch campaign", but "really a 15 month campaign for us, to say nothing of our plans for 2018".[289]

In addition to advertising, Nintendo had planned several ways for players to try the system before its release through various "sampling events". Kimishima felt that it was important, particularly for "career gamers", for Nintendo to get the Switch into players' hands, so that players could understand how the system differs from Nintendo's previous offerings. Kimishima also said that the company was "running a guerrilla marketing program where we're just dashing around and trying to have as many events as possible and get it in the hands of players so they can experience the difference."[23]

The North American and European press had special events on January 13, 2017, following the Tokyo presentation.[294][295] Various Switch demonstration events were run in North America, Europe, and Japan during January and February 2017.[296][297][298][299] Nintendo offered demonstrations of the Switch at gaming conferences including PAX South, South by Southwest, and [294][295] Various Switch demonstration events were run in North America, Europe, and Japan during January and February 2017.[296][297][298][299] Nintendo offered demonstrations of the Switch at gaming conferences including PAX South, South by Southwest, and RTX.[300][301][302] Nintendo also promoted the Switch through an "Unexpected Places" campaign in February 2017, temporarily setting up living-room-style spaces in three United States locations and inviting fans and players, including John Cena, to try out the unit.[303]

In June 2018, Nintendo announced it was partnering with Disney Channel to help produce Nintendo Switch Family Showdown, a televised competition where families competed in challenges around various Switch games in August 2018.[304]

Market analysts had a mixed response to the October 2016 announcement of the Nintendo Switch.[40][41] Some expressed concern that the Switch failed to address the issues that led to poor Wii U sales, and was aimed at a small audience.[40] Others were more upbeat, believing the Switch approach would fit in well in the Japanese market, where space for dedicated consoles and televisions are limited, and transition into Western ones.[19][305] Taylor also approved of the company's decision to introduce the console prior to the holiday season, when Microsoft and Sony would attempt to attract casual gamers to their consoles.[19][306]

Following the January 2017 press conference revealing the unit's pricing and release date, journalists expressed concern at the apparent

Following the January 2017 press conference revealing the unit's pricing and release date, journalists expressed concern at the apparently high system price, comparable to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles but lacking some of their capabilities, the cost of the paid-for Nintendo Switch Online service, and the small number of games that were confirmed for launch.[46][307][308][309] However, other analysts found that the pricing factors indicated the Switch was a more robust console, and would likely sell better than the Wii U, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being a key sales driver.[307] These analysts also figured the Switch fills an appropriate gap in hardware for those seeking more complex gameplay that is not offered in tablet and mobile gaming but don't have the need to purchase a powerful "boxy" console.[310] Most analysts agreed that the success of the Switch depends on Nintendo's support and avoiding mistakes the company had made in marketing and promoting the Wii U.[310]

Nintendo investors showed wariness at the Switch, as its stock price dropped in the months from the system's announcement up until its release. Analysts believed investors felt the Switch was very risky and were unsure if it the unit would draw new audiences to Nintendo's.[311][40][312][313][314] Analysis firms estimated the Switch would have a slow start due to the risk of the system and high price, but could still clear up to 40 million units by 2020.[315][316]

Game and hardware developers were more positive towards the Switch, seeing the system as "a more unifying experience between their handheld and console divisions", but expressed concern on unanswered hardware specifications, and how Nintendo would market the unit to draw in developers.[317][318][319][320] Developer Hideo Kojima compared the notion of the Switch to his idea of "transfarring" that he presented in 2011, allowing players to take a game from a home platform to a portable one, which became the basis of Sony's cross-buy program. He said that the Switch was "an extension of that idea. The fact you can play something at home and take it outside, this is the gamer's dream. The Switch is an evolution of that."[321] Bethesda's Todd Howard stated, "I think Nintendo is the only company that could pull something like this off," commenting on the Nintendo Switch's design and functionality.[322] Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox division, said he was impressed with Nintendo's ability to "state a bold vision and build a product that delivers on that vision".[323]

Retailers were also generally positive with the Switch; GameStop CEO Paul Reines stated the unit was transformative in the market and would be a "game-changer" that could "expand the audience for gaming".[324] Pre-orders were high, with Kimishima stating before launch that total pre-orders reached nearly the levels of units they had ready to ship for launch.[23][325][326]

The October 2016 trailer became Nintendo of America's most-viewed video on YouTube within 24 hours, and was the top trending video on YouTube for about a day.[327]