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8 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying a Nintendo Switch in 2023

The Nintendo Switch has been a runaway success, selling over 122.55 million units worldwide as of December 31, 2022 to become Nintendo‘s best-selling home console ever (source). Its innovative hybrid design allowing you to seamlessly play on your TV or in handheld mode has resonated with gamers of all ages. Hugely popular Nintendo franchises like Mario, Zelda, Pokémon and Animal Crossing have made the Switch a must-have console for many.

However, despite the Switch‘s merits and Nintendo‘s pedigree, there are some significant drawbacks to the aging console that may make you reconsider a purchase in 2023. As an expert on digital gaming platforms, I‘ve identified 8 key reasons you may want to hold off on buying a Switch right now. Let‘s dive in.

1. You‘ll overpay for outdated hardware

One of the biggest knocks against the Switch in 2023 is that the core hardware is outdated, especially compared to the cutting-edge PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. The Switch is powered by an aging NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip first released in 2015. While acceptable in a handheld, this mobile chip is anemic next to the 8-core AMD Zen 2 CPUs and powerful RDNA 2 GPUs found in the PS5 and Series X.

CPU GPU RAM Storage Display out
Switch NVIDIA Tegra X1 256 CUDA cores @ 1 GHz 4 GB LPDDR4 32 GB eMMC Up to 1080p
PS5 8x Zen 2 Cores @ 3.5GHz 10.3 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @2.23 GHz 16 GB GDDR6 825 GB SSD Up to 8K
Xbox Series X 8x Zen 2 Cores @ 3.8GHz 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz 16 GB GDDR6 1 TB SSD Up to 8K

As you can see, the Switch‘s 2015 mobile tech is completely outclassed by 2020‘s PS5 and Series X in every category. Those systems offer over 10x the GPU power and vastly more memory and storage. They can output games at up to 8K/120fps while the Switch struggles to hit 1080p/30fps in most titles.

What‘s worse is that Nintendo still charges a premium price for the Switch‘s aged tech. The base model costs $299, while the larger OLED version is $349. The handheld-only Switch Lite is the cheapest at $199. Compared to the $499 PS5 and Series X which are much more powerful, the Switch hardware seems overpriced in 2023.

2. The games are too expensive

Another common criticism of the Switch is that its games are overpriced, especially Nintendo‘s first-party titles. Major releases like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Pokémon Scarlet still sell for $59.99 MSRP years after release. Nintendo rarely puts its biggest hits on sale, and even then discounts are usually a modest 30-33% off instead of the 50-75%+ price cuts regularly seen on PlayStation and Xbox.

"Nintendo games are still selling for $60 apiece three or four years after they first came out, while most Xbox, PlayStation and PC games get discounted more frequently and steeply," notes gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities.

While Nintendo games offer strong replayability, there‘s no denying that building a good-sized Switch library is expensive. New Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom even increased to a $69.99 MSRP in 2023, a worrying precedent. Unless you wait for rare sales, Switch is easily the priciest console to collect for.

3. It‘s sorely missing key third-party games

While Switch‘s first-party Nintendo lineup is strong, it significantly lags PlayStation and Xbox for third-party games. The system‘s weak mobile hardware means many popular cross-platform AAA series like Call of Duty, Assassin‘s Creed, Resident Evil, and Madden are either entirely absent or compromised on Switch.

"The audience that buys Nintendo hardware has long been trained not to expect the biggest multi-platform titles to show up on Nintendo platforms – or if they do, to not expect them to have visual parity with Xbox or PlayStation versions," says Mat Piscatella, video game industry advisor at NPD Group.

Major publishers like EA, Activision, Square Enix and Ubisoft release few of their flagship franchises on Switch. Japanese developers and indies provide decent support, but Western AAA hits are rare. If your tastes go beyond Nintendo‘s first-party series, the Switch library may disappoint compared to PS5/Series X.

Nintendo has also slowed down releases of its own tentpole franchises on Switch recently. Besides Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, new first-party games have been scarce in 2023, making Switch‘s lineup feel increasingly stale 6 years in.

4. The online services are lackluster

Nintendo has always lagged behind competitors in online gaming, and that‘s still true on Switch. The Nintendo Switch Online subscription service required for online play is bare-bones compared to Sony‘s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft‘s Xbox Live Gold/Game Pass Ultimate.

Basic NSO only costs $20/year, but you get what you pay for. Unlike the robust party systems and voice chat on PS5/XSX, Switch‘s online infrastructure is primitive. Voice chat requires a separate smartphone app. Cloud saves are limited. There are no real member perks or discounts.

The NSO + Expansion Pack tier ($50/year) adds a small library of retro Nintendo 64/Sega Genesis games and DLC access for select titles like Animal Crossing and Mario Kart 8. But it‘s a poor value compared to the 100s of modern and classic games included with PS Plus Extra/Premium or Xbox Game Pass.

For only $10/month, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold (online multiplayer, free games, discounts) PLUS access to 100s of high-quality games including new first-party Microsoft titles on day one. It‘s a true "Netflix for games."

By comparison, NSO feels entirely tacked-on and archaic in 2023. Basic online functionality that has been standard on other platforms for 15+ years is still half-baked or missing on Switch, which is disappointing given Nintendo‘s rich history in multiplayer games.

5. There‘s no achievement system

Another puzzling omission on Switch is the complete lack of a system-wide achievement system – a standard feature on Xbox since 2005 and PlayStation since 2008. Most modern gamers expect consoles to include trophies/achievements to mark their in-game feats and compare progress.

But on Switch, player profiles are bare-bones, with no equivalent to PlayStation trophies or Xbox Gamerscore. Even the Switch UI itself is extremely basic, with no themes or customization options. It‘s a stark contrast to the slick, full-featured interfaces on PS5 and XSX.

While not a deal-breaker for everyone, no achievements does make Switch feel more transient and "disposable" to play. It lacks the metagame and bragging rights of showing off Platinum trophies to friends or maxing out a game‘s Gamerscore. The lack of basic profile features is one area where Switch clearly lags other platforms.

6. You can‘t use it as a media center

Nowadays, game consoles are expected to double as media center devices, allowing you to download a variety of streaming entertainment apps. PS5 and Xbox Series X support dozens of services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Plex, and more. The PS5 even includes a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray drive for physical media.

Switch, however, provides almost no media functionality and very limited apps. Besides Hulu and YouTube, you won‘t find popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, etc. Switch can‘t play movies from discs or files either.

With only a paltry 32 GB of built-in storage (much of which is taken up by the OS), the Switch can‘t really store personal media content either. Its small 6.2-inch 720p screen also looks low-res and washed out compared to modern OLED phones and tablets.

"I‘ve always seen the lack of serious media apps on the Switch as a major strategic weakness versus rival consoles," notes Joost van Dreunen, gaming investor and NYU Stern lecturer. Consoles are expected to be full home entertainment hubs, not just gaming devices, and Switch misses the mark here.

7. The Steam Deck does PC gaming better

Even Nintendo‘s dominance in dedicated handheld gaming is being challenged by Valve‘s Steam Deck, a portable PC launched in 2022 that‘s already sold over 1.5 million units (source). It takes the Switch concept but supersizes it in every way.

The Steam Deck grants access to your entire Steam library on the go. Being an open Linux-based platform, you can also freely install the Epic Games Store, GOG, Xbox Game Pass, and other digital shops. Or boot into desktop mode to browse the web, use productivity apps, or stream games remotely from another PC.

Its AMD custom APU (4-core Zen 2 CPU, 8 CU RDNA 2 GPU) also offers significantly more processing/graphics power than Switch‘s Tegra X1, capable of 60fps in demanding AAA titles like Elden Ring and God of War that would melt Switch. The Steam Deck targets 800p on its 7-inch screen, but can output higher resolutions to an external monitor.

The sheer breadth of the Steam library and frequent sales make it easy to amass a huge collection of Deck-verified games for cheap. 90% of the 100 most-played games on Steam already work great on Deck. It‘s a cutting-edge, full-featured handheld gaming PC that makes Switch feel comparatively limited.

8. More powerful hardware is likely coming

Finally, you may want to hold off on buying a Switch now because credible rumors point to new, upgraded Switch hardware launching as soon as 2024. After the mild 2019 refresh and 2021 OLED model, many analysts expect a true next-gen "Switch 2" or "Switch Pro" is imminent.

Bloomberg has reported this mid-generation refresh would use a newer NVIDIA chip enabling 4K output in docked mode, DLSS AI upscaling, and an improved handheld display. Respected industry insider Tom Henderson claims this "Switch 2" could be as powerful as a PS4 and is aiming for a late 2024 launch.

With the standard Switch showing its age and sales finally slowing YoY for the first time in 2022, analysts believe Nintendo needs to release new, meaningfully-upgraded hardware to maintain momentum and better compete with PS5/XSX.

"Nintendo typically releases a new console every five to six years, and it‘s already been six years since the Switch launched," notes game industry researcher Serkan Toto of Kantan Games, predicting a 2024 debut for the successor could "reset the Switch lifecycle."

Buying an original Switch now only to have a much more powerful model come out within a year could be disappointing. Patient gamers are arguably better off seeing what‘s next from Nintendo before investing in the aging platform.


The Nintendo Switch is an innovative and beloved console with many great exclusives and a brilliant hybrid form factor. But outdated tech, high costs, lack of non-Nintendo titles, missing features, and stiff competition make it tough to recommend as an all-around gaming machine in 2023.

If you mostly care about playing Nintendo first-party franchises and family-friendly exclusives, Switch is still a solid buy despite its limitations. The ability to game at home on a TV or on the go remains as compelling as ever. But gamers with wider tastes or those who care about value, graphical horsepower, robust online services, and trophies will be better served by a PS5, Xbox Series X|S or Steam Deck.

At the very least, it‘s prudent to wait and see what Switch hardware upgrade Nintendo announces next before committing to the 2017-era model. The rumors of a much more powerful "Switch Pro" coming in 2024 are getting hard to ignore.

Hopefully this in-depth article provided useful info and context to help you make the right call on Switch in 2023. Let me know in the comments if you‘re still on the fence or if another gaming platform has won you over instead!