We know what you're thinking – you've only just taken down the Christmas decorations, yet we're already thinking about Santa's return – what is wrong with us? However, stick with us here – this is a valid question to ask as the Switch enters its fourth year on sale and we begin to ponder what gaming delights 2020 might bring.
While publishers obviously try to space out their releases across the full 12 months, there's no escaping the fact that the most commercially fertile time of year is the holiday season – and if you look back at the Switch's history, we've traditionally seen some major games launch around this time.
In 2017, we got Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, while in 2018 we were blessed with Pokémon: Let's Go and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Last year, it was the turn of Pokémon Sword & Shield, with Luigi's Mansion 3 picking up some of the slack. But what does Christmas 2020 have in store?
At this moment in time, we don't actually have any confirmed first-party releases for that period – hence this feature, in which we discuss the potential options and their likelihood of happening.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
Given how little we've seen of this game so far, it might not seem very likely that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 will be in our hands by the time Santa arrives later this year – but let's not forget that it's likely to use the same game engine as the illustrious original (thereby cutting down development time) and we'd imagine that production began pretty soon after the first game launched at the start of 2017.
Nintendo could well be holding its cards close to its chest, and we'll get a massive helping of Zelda info at E3 2020, as well as a Christmas release date. That does seem rather optimistic given the paucity of solid information we've had thus far, but Breath of the Wild 2 would be the perfect game to spearhead Switch's Christmas charge – and, one could argue, the ideal weapon to counter the next-gen console war which begins this year with the arrival of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
If Nintendo wants to convince people to stick with Switch, then rolling out what many will feel is its biggest gun isn't a bad idea.
Again, the lack of any solid information on this highly-anticipated sequel seems to rule out a 2020 release, but Bayonetta 3 is arguably long overdue – it was announced way back in 2017, for crying out loud. How much longer does it need in the oven before we get to play it?
Well, we've been told not to worry and that PlatinumGames has some big news for early this year. And let's not forget that PlatinumGames and Nintendo announced Astral Chain in February 2019 and released it in August of the same year. Given the short space of time between those two events, it doesn't seem too extreme to expect our favourite Umbra witch to take a bow before the close of the year, does it?
While Pikmin is perhaps in a slightly lower league when compared to Nintendo's other big-hitting franchises, it has plenty of fans and could certainly 'fill the gap' if Switch is struggling for a decent Christmas hit – or, it could be the perfect companion release to the year's biggest title.
The recent news that the Pikmin 3 website has been taken offline has spurred some fans into speculating that we could see the Wii U game get ported to Switch; given the quality of that particular outing we'd certainly be keen for it to reach a larger audience, but we dare say that many will be holding out for an all-new entry.
Even if Pikmin 3 does get re-released in 2020, we're not sure it would be the game to face-off against the PS5 and Xbox Series X this festive season, though.
Super Mario Odyssey 2
It might be a matter of 'when' not 'if', but could we see the sequel to Super Mario Odyssey hit the Switch in 2020? There wasn't a massive amount of time between the first look at the original and its Christmas 2017 launch, so who knows; perhaps Nintendo will lift the lid on this sooner rather than later and get us all excited for a holiday season release?
We certainly can't think of any game better suited to shifting consoles – outside of Breath of the Wild 2, of course, but you could argue that epic game lacks Mario's broad commercial appeal (Breath of the Wild has sold almost a million fewer copies than Super Mario Odyssey, despite being available for almost a year longer).
Metroid Prime 4
Out of all the titles on this list, Metroid Prime 4 is perhaps the most outlandish. The project has endured a troubled development period, with Retro Studios being drafted in to pick up the piece when development was restarted last year.
With that in mind, we're very unlikely to see Samus Aran make it to market in time for Christmas – although we'd imagine that Nintendo might show something of the game at this year's E3 event. Perhaps, in the meantime, we'll get that 2D Metroid outing that has been rumoured recently.
Speaking of which, the same source which says we're getting a 2D Metroid also says that a new Paper Mario game is on the way in 2020. This title will apparently go back to the roots of the series – presumably using the excellent Thousand-Year Door as inspiration – and could see the franchise return to its glory days.
However, the series has never been a system-seller in the same way that Mario's mainline adventures have, so even if this is true, we'd be amazed if this was Nintendo's big release for Christmas; like Pikmin, we'd see this in a supporting role more than anything else.
A New Pokémon
Game Freak has been fixed in a yearly release pattern since 2016's Pokémon Sun and Moon on the 3DS; in 2017 we had Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon, while 2018 gave us the aforementioned Pokémon Let's Go. Last year, it was the turn of Pokémon Sword and Shield – so it would be a safe bet to assume we'll be getting another instalment this Christmas, right?
Well, the news that Sword and Shield is being supported by DLC means that an 'ultra' version is unlikely (unless, of course, Nintendo decides to bundle the two expansions as a new physical release). However, that doesn't mean that Game Freak isn't working on another remake similar to LeafGreen / FireRed or Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire.
Diamond and Pearl would be the most obvious candidates – but is it a really good idea for Game Freak stick to a yearly release pattern, or should the studio slow things down and instead focus on making its mainline releases as good as they can be?
What do you make of this list? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Share them with a comment below.