Nintendo Switch 2 patent hints at console’s design — and I’m worried

Nintendo switch oledn handheld display
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Nintendo Switch 2 rumor mill has just churned out one of its most intriguing updates yet as a recently discovered patent may be giving us our first look at the unannounced console’s design. 

As spotted by Gamerant, a Nintendo patent filed in late 2022 has now surfaced online, and it seemingly relates to a new portable gaming device. There are four sketched images attached to the patent that display a console that looks somewhat similar to the current Nintendo Switch but with a few key differences. 

Perhaps the biggest change is the removal of the Joy-Con controllers. Instead, the console looks to have a similar form factor to the Nintendo Switch Lite. The image suggests it's an all-in-one unit. The patent also shows that this console features a single joystick on the left side of the device, and four buttons on the right. There are also two shoulder buttons on the top of the console. 

This would be a significant change from the first-generation Switch, which packs a joystick on either side of the display, four face buttons, a four-direction d-pad, as well as four additional buttons (plus, minus, home and capture). If this patent does indeed show the Switch 2, Nintendo is radically rethinking the design of its next hardware.

Further images included with the patent reveal the home and capture buttons have moved to the underside of the unit, alongside a USB-C port and dual speakers. The top of the console packs a volume adjuster, power button, headphone jack and a cartridge slot — it’s at least reassuring to know that Nintendo has no plans to go all-digital in the near future. 

According to Gamerant, the patent describes a pressure-sensitive touchscreen display, and the description suggests that an “input to control directional movement” could also be included on the right of the device. This would presumably be a second joystick and would bring this device closer in appearance to the current Nintendo Switch lineup.  

Why this Nintendo Switch 2 patent is worrying

I'm extremely eager to hear more about the Nintendo Switch 2 — although it should be noted at this stage the device is technically unconfirmed — but I’m definitely hoping this patent turns out to be a red herring. Put simply, the images in this patent display a device that would be fundamentally unsuited to Switch gaming. 

The lack of dual joysticks would be pretty much a dealbreaker by itself, but only four face buttons would greatly limit the ability of developers to create well-designed control schemes. Plus, the PlayStation Vita already proved over a decade ago that a portable device with just single triggers makes for a poor play experience. The Nintendo Switch 2 needs to offer four separate shoulder buttons just like its predecessor. 

If this patent does indeed show the Nintendo Switch 2 it would also be a hammer blow to the chances of the console being backwards compatible with the existing Switch library. The best Nintendo Switch games would not translate to this reworked design, and it’s hard to see many developers going through the process of updating their games so they can be played on a device with fewer points of input. 

Of course, it’s important to note that we do not have any confirmation that this patent is for the Nintendo Switch 2. It could be an alternative device that Nintendo is also developing. Furthermore, companies regularly file patents for products that never see the light of day, so just because Nintendo has a patent for this design does not mean it’s something we’ll ever actually have in our hands. 

For example, Sony filed a patent for a system that would allow you to operate your PS5 with a banana back in 2021, but you can’t play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with a piece of fruit. Similarly, the product described in this Nintendo patent may never come to fruition either. For now, we'll just have to wait until Nintendo finally gives us some concrete details about its hotly-anticipated follow-up to the Switch console. 

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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. 

  • M0arbid
    History has proven that Nintendo releases patents after the devices the patents are intended for have been announced by Nintendo officially. There has been a massive number of rumored patents that have turned out to be absolutely nothing and completely unrelated to anything concerning the switch 2. This has already been completely debunked and the title is clickbait and the facts or lack thereof are completely unsubstantiated making this pure speculative guesswork.
  • EhCanadian7
    In patent legalize, "a" means "one or more". Text and drawings with "a joystick" covers implementations that have one, two, or even five joysticks! But if they write or show "two joysticks" then it only covers implementations with exactly two joysticks, not one, not five, etc.