Nintendo has taken a fairly extraordinary step of publicly denying reports that 4K Nintendo Switch dev kits have been distributed to developers.
Reporting from Bloomberg suggested that a 4K development kit for the Nintendo Switch was in the hands of at least 11 game companies, per employees from those studios. This included large publishers, small studios, and most notably, Zynga Inc., who has never released a console game in the past. This furthers their consistent reporting that a more powerful iteration of the Nintendo Switch is planned for sometime soon.
However, Nintendo has shut this reporting down with a statement on Twitter:
A news report on Sept. 30, 2021(JST) falsely claims that Nintendo is supplying tools to drive game development for a Nintendo Switch with 4K support. To ensure correct understanding among our investors and customers, we want to clarify that this report is not true.
We also want to restate that, as we announced in July, we have no plans for any new model other than Nintendo Switch – OLED Model, which will launch on October 8, 2021.
The note is important on two levels: firstly Nintendo do not want prospective customers who might be eyeing up a new Nintendo Switch to put off any purchases while waiting for a product that may or may not be in development and may not even see the light of day. Perhaps more importantly, the company has to try and ensure that investors have accurate information about the company’s future performance. That comes during quarterly financial updates where they forecast sales figures, but can also come outside of those times, as in this case.
The persistent rumours surrounding a more powerful Switch could easily inflate investor expectations and then lead to drop in their stock prices when the rumours don’t come true.
A Nintendo Switch Pro has been rumoured and reported on for several years now, though the company has regularly dismissed or ignored this reporting.
Speculation was initially that Nintendo would release both the Switch Lite and a Switch Pro in 2019, though in the end they only released the smaller model and revised the internals of the original Switch design for better battery life. Naturally, analysts then shifted their expectations to 2020 and speculated that Nintendo would boost their hardware power to counter the launch of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
Come 2020, however, Nintendo completely ruled out a new console release in that year, pushing those expectations back to the 2021/22 fiscal year. And, funnily enough, when Nintendo was asked a straightforward question on the matter at the start of 2021, they left the door open to a new model’s release in this calendar year. However, that did not turn out to be a more powerful Switch Pro and was instead the Nintendo Switch OLED.
I think it’s quite clear from Nintendo’s previous conduct that when they deny something outright, they mean it. If a 4K Switch was actually in the hands of developers, they would not come out and deny it point blank like this.
So basically, no, Nintendo has not sent 4K Nintendo Switches to developers. The only wriggle room is that they might have sent something else to developers instead…
UPDATE: Zynga has also denied the claims.
“To clarify, Zynga does not have a 4K developer kit from Nintendo,” a spokesperson for the company told Kotaku in an email. “As a Switch developer for the upcoming Star Wars: Hunters game that Zynga announced on a recent Nintendo Direct, we can confirm that none of the developer kits Zynga has or is in receipt of are 4K developer kits.”