Nintendo spotlights Switch games like a new Zelda title, but no console update at E3

The Nintendo Switch, a wildly popular handheld game console, was first released in early 2017.
The Nintendo Switch, a wildly popular handheld game console, was first released in early 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - Nintendo on Tuesday (June 15) unveiled updated versions of its hit console games including Zelda and Super Smash Brothers, but disappointed fans looking for a new model of its popular Switch console.

Rumours of a new version of the Switch had fuelled anticipation ahead of a streamed presentation by the Japanese video game titan on the closing day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Nintendo tried to tamp down hardware expectations, stressing ahead of time that the presentation would be devoted exclusively to game software.

The Switch, a wildly popular handheld game console, was first released in early 2017.

Unconfirmed reports had surfaced recently that Nintendo was planning a beefed-up "pro" model with richer graphics and capabilities this year, including a 7-inch OLED display, with E3 a prime venue to announce it.

Instead, Nintendo showcased coming instalments of beloved games from its Super Smash Brothers, Metroid and Zelda franchises as well as a Guardians of the Galaxy title which will be on Switch as well as rival consoles Xbox and PlayStation.

The company said its highly anticipated next game in the Zelda franchise, a sequel to Breath of the Wild, will be out in 2022.

Nintendo did not share a final title or many other details, although a brief trailer showcased the game's hero, Link, using abilities that were not in the first game. Series producer Eiji Aonuma said the sequel would take place in the skies above the first game's world.

The game maker's promotional video was full of fan-pleasing announcements such as Metroid Dread and WarioWare Get It Together, both coming out on Switch this fall.

The company also showcased role-playing game Shin Megami Tensei V and said the beloved, niche novel collection Danganronpa, which is available on other platforms, would be coming to Switch.

Nintendo reported its highest ever annual profit last month after virus lockdowns caused sales of its blockbuster Switch console to soar.

While fresh waves of infections have dashed recovery hopes in many industries, successive rounds of restrictions have helped extend a run of good fortune for video game companies as people seek indoor entertainment.

The firm said at the time that surging sales were propelled by the runaway popularity of the Switch and the family-friendly game Animal Crossing, which became a lockdown hit.

The Switch was the United States' top-selling console in 2020, a year that saw record sales of video games, consoles and accessories, according to NPD group, a market research firm.

As the Switch enters its fifth year on the market, historical console sales patterns suggest demand will wane, increasing pressure on the company to rev interest with a new model.

The E3 event that each year turned the Los Angeles Convention Center into a players' paradise was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19, and went virtual this year with a streamed event.

Tuesday marked the fourth and final day of E3, which is to return as a real world event in Los Angeles next year.