Nintendo on Thursday unveiled its next video game console, the Nintendo Switch, a combination home and mobile device the company hopes will reverse its fortunes in the home console market.
The Switch is a tablet-like device players can attach to a dock connected to the owner's television, enjoying games with a standard home console controller. When owners want to play on the go, they remove Switch from the dock and attach a pair of "Joy-Con" controllers, one on each side.
The Joy-Con controllers resemble small remotes, featuring a thumbstick and a variety of buttons. The controllers can detach and be used in games by one player or serve as individual controllers for multiple players.
"Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and chief operating officer in a statement Thursday. “It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”
The Switch will launch in March 2017. Nintendo has yet to reveal pricing details.
Footage of the Switch in action shows two people playing Mario Kart, each holding one of the Joy-Con controllers sideways. Another clip shows a person playing an action game holding both controllers vertically like remotes while the Switch is propped up by a kickstand.
Nintendo says several third-party publishers will partner with the company on Switch games including Activision, Electronic Arts, Capcom and Ubisoft. During a video showcasing the console, footage of Bethesda Softworks' role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Take-Two Interactive's NBA 2K were spotted.
"With the Nintendo Switch’s unique capacities and design, Nintendo could again redefine the way we play games," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in a separate statement. "The Nintendo Switch is accessible at its core and also seizes on the growing trends of sharing more experiences and playing anywhere at any time."
The Switch will run a custom version of Nvidia's Tegra processor, the chip maker confirmed in a separate blog post. Versions of the Tegra processor are used in device's such as Nvidia's own portable gaming platform, Nvidia Shield.
With the Switch, Nintendo seeks to rebound from sagging sales of its current home device, the Wii U. Since launching in 2012 -- a year before Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One -- Nintendo has sold more than 13 million Wii U consoles. By comparison, sales of the PS4 have reached 40 million.
The Wii U features a controller with a tablet-size touchscreen, somewhat similar to the design of the undocked Switch. However, it failed to catch on with consumers, while third-party publishers bailed in favor of producing games for PS4 and Xbox One.
Meanwhile, Nintendo also produces the 3DS handheld console, which has sold nearly 60 million units to date.
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says the support from third party publishers looks "impressive," adding the Switch could perform well depending on how it stacks up against the PS4 and Xbox One.
"If the specs are comparable, and the price point is comparable, and the software is comparable … I think things are going to be great," says Pachter.