Long time lurker, but first reply here:
Last edited by CheddarPlease - on 03 May 2021
Imo, it depends on context. The purpose of Console generations has always been one of rather arbitrary comparisons, and the Switch is no different. The main point to take into consideration is that in addition to bridging 2 generations, the Switch is also a Hybrid console. What this means is that the Switch can fall into different generations depending on criteria.
In terms of its place in the handheld console market, as well as in Nintendo's lineup, the Switch is undoubtedly a 9th Gen console. As it is technologically speaking a portable console with the ability to output to a TV, comparing it to its handheld predecessors, the 3DS and PS Vita, we can see that the Switch is a true generational leap. In addition, Nintendo has marketed the Switch as a new experience compared to its predecessors, releasing sequels to games on prior consoles. However, this line begins to blur when you look at other factors. As Shadow said, many mainstream sites, such as NPD, Wikipedia, and even to an extent Nintendo themselves have envisioned it competing with the PS4 and XB1. To a degree, these console comparisons are often determined by mainstream outlets as a useful point of comparison, so if that is what people have agreed upon, then it doesn't really matter how arbitrary an 8th Generation categorization is, given that the primary consideration for Console generations is public agreement anyways.
In addition, while the Switch can be looked at as a generational leap in terms of the handheld market, when it comes to home consoles the Switch can be seen as an extension of the Wii U in many ways. It has roughly equivalent specs, and its first plats serve more as a continuation of the Wii U's focus on co-op gameplay and action-adventure, rather than being a technological or conceptual leap. In many ways, other than Breath of the Wild (which also launched simultaneously on the Wii U, albeit as it was being lowered into the grave), most of the Switch's best selling games have mainly been refinements on Wii U and 3DS titles, and sometimes outright ports. This isn't to dismiss the innovations that have occurred during the Switch era, but more to say that gameplay on the Switch has not brought about a paradigm shift as is typical between console generations.
So what is my conclusion here? Given all my points above, I believe that the question as to which generation the Switch belongs to isn't exactly a surprising one. As many on this forum have been highlighting above, it all comes down to personal arguments and which viewpoint people decide to take. That in itself isn't exactly new. When the Wii and Wii U came out, there were some that believed that they should be classified as last-gen consoles. But ultimately despite peoples' arguments, a consensus was reached, in that the Wii and Wii U were considered to be current Gen. As such the same is bound to happen now. With the release of the PS5 and XBXS only a few months ago, the 9th Generation has only just begun to kick into high gear, and as such I expect the question of where the Switch happens to fit in to remain unanswered for at least the months to come. Until a consensus is reached, I will continue to classify the Switch to be in both generations, depending on the circumstance.