Nintendo Switch 2 could be backwards compatible — here’s what we know

Nintendo Switch OLED held between two hands with one of the JoyCons being slid off
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo has offered up the first concrete details about its next console — commonly referred to as the Nintendo Switch 2 — during a recent briefing. And it’s potentially good news for anybody hoping the Switch 2 will be backwards compatible. 

During the Q&A portion of an investors call, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa noted that the company had already begun thinking about the transition from the current Nintendo Switch to the company’s next-generation system. 

“As for the transition from Nintendo Switch to the next generation machine, we want to do as much as possible in order to smoothly transition our customers while utilizing the Nintendo Account,” said Furukawa (thanks to @Genki_JPN for the translation). 

See more

This might not seem like particularly significant news but it would mark a change for Nintendo who have historically favored a clean slate approach when launching new hardware. For example, Switch owners coming from the Wii U console couldn’t transfer their existing Nintendo Network ID and instead had to create a fresh Nintendo Account. 

Furukawa noted to investors that there are more than 290 million Nintendo Accounts across the Switch family of consoles and mobile. And it would make sense for the gaming company to want to build upon that number rather than forcing Switch 2 adopters to start from scratch. 

Carrying a single Nintendo Account across multiple generations of consoles would mirror the approach of rivals Sony and Microsoft. Both have allowed gamers to transfer their existing PlayStation Network and Xbox Live accounts across the last three generations of hardware.

What this means for Nintendo Switch 2 backwards compatibility  

Tears of the Kingdom Switch OLED

(Image credit: Future)

It's good to know we won’t have to make a whole new Nintendo Account when we do eventually get our hands on the Switch 2. But, the real significance of this news could be in relation to the next-generation console's backwards compatibility features.

Now that we know Nintendo will allow users to transfer their existing Nintendo Account to its next console, it’s not a stretch to suggest that a user’s game library will also make the jump between hardware generations. 

That’s how things work when moving from PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Xbox Series X, and Nintendo may be looking to do the same with the Switch and the Switch 2 by allowing users to play their current library of games on its new hardware. 

However, a recent report did indicate that Nintendo would have issues making the Switch 2 backwards compatible. This is because the current Switch is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra X1 CPU which is considered fairly outdated now. The Switch 2 will presumably upgrade to a more powerful chip which could have an impact on the console’s ability to play games released on its predecessor. 

Nevertheless, while backwards compatibility is far from guaranteed, confirmation that Nintendo wants to make the transition to its next-generation machine a “smooth” one is certainly a positive update for anybody hoping the Nintendo Switch 2 will offer the feature. 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of hope screenshot

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Hints towards the Nintendo Switch 2 have been growing in recent weeks. Most recently, Ubisoft suggested that it should have waited to release Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope on Nintendo’s next console rather than the current Switch — which is a big hint that third-party publishers are aware of Nintendo’s future plans.

However, don’t expect to hear much more from Nintendo itself in the next few months. Back in May, Nintendo told investors that the Switch 2 will not be released in its current fiscal year which runs until April 2024. So, don't expect a full reveal of whatever Nintendo is cooking up to be particularly imminent. 

More from Tom's Guide

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.