Typically, console generations run for around 5-6 years. With some amount of deviation, this has generally been true for consoles from the big three: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
But Nintendo believes its new system, the Switch, could potentially run for a longer period of time. Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto said during a recent investor Q&A that he believes the Switch stands to be successful for a long time to come due to its unique hybrid nature and Nintendo's efforts to create compelling content that leverages the system's unique attributes.
"When you think about what can be done with the Nintendo Switch as a device that can be taken on the go and that every person has in their hands to play, you realise it has many features not available on any other hardware to date," Miyamoto said. "Nintendo also has a system in place whereby the software developers focus on these hardware features in their development efforts for the continuation of the Nintendo Switch business."
He added: "Up until now, the hardware lifecycle has trended at around five or six years, but it would be very interesting if we could prolong that life cycle, and I think you should be looking forward to that."
Nintendo director Shinya Takahashi went on to say that the company is working with "junior" developers inside the company to continue to "create interesting products" that are both fun to play and reach a wide audience.
"Behind the unceasing stream of Nintendo Switch software releases to date is an approach to development that concentrates on development, itself the fruit of efforts several years ago to integrate the software development teams, which has made it easier to organise teams."
By comparison, the Wii U was released in 2012, with production ending globally in January 2017. The Switch launched in March 2017, going on surpass the lifetime sales of the Wii U after just 10 months. If Nintendo's prediction comes true and the Switch has a lifecycle longer than 5-6 years, we could see it still in the market into 2023 and potentially beyond depending on how things go.
Some of Nintendo's biggest franchises have already been released on the Switch (Super Mario, Mario Kart, and Zelda are among them) but fans are still waiting for a Super Smash Bros. game. Given that it is one of Nintendo's biggest and best-known franchises, we can expect it to eventually come to Switch, though it remains to be seen when that may happen.
For more on Nintendo's latest investor Q&A, check out the stories linked below.