The Nintendo Switch is heading into its third year with some pretty strong momentum, having sold more than 22 million units and playing host to such hit exclusives as Pokémon: Let's Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So what's next?
2019 could be a banner year for Nintendo's hybrid console, headlined by titles such as Luigi's Mansion 3 and an all-new Pokémon experience. We could even see a slight hardware refresh of the Big N's portable-games powerhouse, and we'll likely see some notable upgrades come to the company's new Switch Online service.
Here's everything to expect from Nintendo Switch in 2019.
Games: Animal Crossing, Pokémon, Marvel and more
The Switch gained a ton of great games from both Nintendo and third parties in 2018, but this year's additions lacked the magical one-two punch of 2017's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo could recapture that magic in 2019 with tons of exclusive sequels to wildly popular franchises on the way.
In 2019, the Switch is slated to get Luigi's Mansion 3, the next installment in the cult-favorite ghostbusting series; a still-untitled Fire Emblem game; and an all-new Pokémon RPG. This won't be a rehash of the classics, like 2018's Pokémon Let's Go was; we're talking about a new region, new Pokémon and potentially some major gameplay changes.
Nintendo will also publish Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, a Switch-exclusive sequel to the beloved co-op superhero action series. The Switch will also get a new entry in the popular and adorable Animal Crossing life-simulator franchise. Other notable 2019 Nintendo games include a pair of colorful platformers in Yoshi's Crafted World and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, the latter of which is a port of the underrated Wii U classic.
The two big question marks for 2019 are stylish action-romp Bayonetta 3 and first-person sci-fi adventure Metroid Prime 4. Both of these wildly anticipated sequels were announced back in 2017, but we haven't heard a peep about them since then. And while new Luigi's Mansion and Pokémon games sound great, it's these two question-mark games that have the most potential to rise to the must-have level of Breath of the Wild.
We also expect 2019 to be another banner year for the Switch on the indie and second- and third-party front, highlighted by smaller titles such as mech-battler Daemon X Machina and No More Heroes sequel Travis Strikes Again, as well as AAA games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled.
With Luigi's Mansion 3, Pokémon, Ultimate Alliance 3 and what's sure to be a trove of great indies, you won't have a problem finding new things to play on your Switch in 2019.
A new hardware revision?
In October 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo is working on a refreshed version of the Switch for 2019. Citing suppliers, the report noted that Nintendo is looking to make the Switch's screen "brighter, thinner and more energy efficient," which could mean a slightly improved model with better battery life and a more vibrant display.
Hardware revisions are nothing new for Nintendo, though we don't expect the Switch hardware to change too drastically (if at all) in 2019. After all, the new system will likely still need to work with all existing Joy-Cons, as well as fit into Nintendo's TV dock.
Regardless of whether or not we're getting improved Switch hardware, you can almost certainly count on new limited-edition versions of the console with unique Joy-Cons and docks. In 2018, we saw special bundles for such games as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu, and we wouldn't be surprised to see similar packages for titles such as Luigi's Mansion 3 and the 2019 Pokémon game.
Nintendo Switch Online: More classic games, more features
We expect Nintendo's still-nascent, $20-per-year Switch Online service to evolve significantly in 2019, both in terms of functionality and in the number of classic Nintendo games you can play on it.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in December 2018, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé noted that the NES Classic and SNES Classic are no longer in production and that Switch Online will be "the main way that consumers will be able to experience that legacy content."
The Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online app has been updated steadily with new NES games like Ninja Gaiden and Metroid since it first launched in September. And based on Fils-Aimé's comments, we wouldn't be surprised to see Nintendo expand the Switch's classic game offerings to other consoles such as the Super NES and Nintendo 64 in 2019.
Switch Online, which is required to play most Switch titles on the internet, also grants access to cloud saves, special offers and voice chat via Nintendo's lackluster Switch Online app. Fils-Aimé told Forbes in December that Nintendo will continue to improve the service, though you shouldn't expect Switch Online to ape Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus (both $60 per year) in terms of functionality.
"Nintendo as a company prides itself on doing things differently. So, don't expect us to simply mirror what others do," Fils-Aimé told Forbes. "We're always looking for ways to make the subscription offer more meaningful to consumers, so stayed tuned as those plans continue to evolve."
With a potentially more-robust library of notable exclusives and continued support from key indies and third-party studios, 2019 is shaping up to be another great year for Nintendo Switch. Luigi's Mansion 3, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Animal Crossing should keep Nintendo fans plenty busy, though we're eager to find out more about Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3, two games that could really make Switch's 2019 something special.
It also looks to be a big year for Nintendo Switch Online, which is slated to get even more classic games and, hopefully, even more functionality. Factor in the possibility of an improved hardware refresh, and 2019 could be an excellent year for Nintendo's console, whether you already own one or plan on picking one up soon.