Nintendo is planning on releasing an upgraded version of the Switch gaming console next year, according to reports.

The popular device has revitalised the Japanese company’s fortunes courtesy of a range of popular first-party games including Animal Crossing, which has grown especially popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Switch has already been a resounding success for Nintendo, nearly doubling the company’s full-year profits when it was released in 2017, and a cheaper Lite model has also sold strongly since launching last September.

The hacker used released information about the Nintendo Switch console. File pic
Several Legend of Zelda games have been popular with Switch owners since it was released

According to reports by Bloomberg and the Economic Daily News in Taiwan, another new version of the Switch will be released early next year – bringing the first real hardware upgrades to the console in four years.

Bloomberg reports that the upgrade will improve the computing power of the device and that it will be able to support 4K graphics like the upcoming PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X.

As a hybrid console, the existing Switch can be hooked up to a TV like a traditional console, or used as a handheld thanks to its dedicated screen. It is expected that this display will increase to 1080p from its existing 720p.

The refreshed hardware will also reportedly launch alongside a strong range of new games, something which the console has strongly benefited from in the past.

Titles such as Mario Kart 8 and entries in The Legend of Zelda series have been popular with consumers, while the latest Animal Crossing game has sold more than 22 million copies since it was released in March – just as many countries were going into lockdown due to COVID-19.

Nintendo's iconic game character Super Mario is getting two new games
Nintendo’s iconic character Super Mario will no doubt be featured among the new console’s games

The original Switch and its Lite incarnation had sold more than 61 million units combined as of early August and the console is expected to have since surpassed the lifetime sales of the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Unlike its console rivals PlayStation and Microsoft, Nintendo does not yet have any major releases scheduled for Christmas time, when the market will be dominated by the PS5 and Xbox Series X.