The Road to NX: Where We Are And Where We’re Going
Another year passes by and a brand new one has only just begun. 2016 is already heavy on gaming and our wallets are going to have to keep up.Big games such as the new Uncharted, No Man’s Sky, the new Legend of Zelda and many more are already confirmed to be on the horizon. Of course, big games is one thing, but a brand new gaming platform is definitely juicy news. Now, in case you were living in a cave somewhere off the Saharan desert, Nintendo had confirmed they are hard at work on their new “dedicated gaming platform”. Let us review this announcement before we move any further.
When The Bomb Dropped:
The original confirmation on Nintendo’s plans on a new platform were revealed back in mid-2015 when the late President of Nintendo, Mr. Satoru Iwata, spoke at a press conference heavily based on their step into mobile gaming. During this presentation, it was confirmed that the house of Mario was to partner up with DeNa to create mobile games using the famous Nintendo IP’s. Of course, since then, we have only gotten information on one game called Miitomo, which incorporates the use of Miis in a social environment. Other games have yet to be mentioned.
This reveal was alarming to some because Nintendo’s current home console market is not what it used to be. The Wii U, being technologically inferior to its competitors from Sony and Microsoft, has had a hard time making its presence even if the console was released a year prior to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Therefore, some were beginning to question Nintendo’s interest in going full mobile and dropping the home console market. This is further supported by the fact that Nintendo’s 3DS is dominating the handheld gaming market.
To clear the suspicion, Mr. Iwata had confirmed that “Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business.” With that, he goes on to confirm that the Big N is working on a dedicated gaming platform with a brand new concept. It was also specified that is not a continuation of the Wii brand name and will be something completely different.
“Let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codenamed ‘NX’. It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.”
What is NX and what can it be:
Of course, this is the million-dollar question. Since the announcement, Nintendo have only been reminding people that it will not be sharing information until 2016. Even when Nintendo Direct broadcasts were prepared, the company made sure the warn fans that no information regarding NX was to be disclosed yet.
So, all we had are possible speculations on multiple patent registrations issued by the Big N. This includes patents for features, controllers and more. So far, we believe that the NX is a hybrid console that will essentially have both a home and console and handheld terminal. One such theory states that the controller for the home terminal of the NX is actually the portable handheld itself. This is further backed when a patent was filed about a game console that can connect with multiple devices simultaneously (i.e.: controllers or even handhelds).
Speaking of the controller, it is the most the aspect we’ve had the most information on thanks to numerous patents that were filed. For those of you who remember, there was one such patent about a special kind of shoulder buttons that have some sort of mouse wheel. In other words, these wheels are the actual shoulder buttons which can help with scrolling through inventory in real-time without the need to pause the game.
More recently, we got a new patent a full controller, or at least the concept behind the controller. The controller was shown to incorporate nothing but triggers, a speaker and two thumbpads for analog control. However, the more interesting part is the giant screen that covers the whole face of the controller. This is a touchscreen which can be programmed in any way the developer wishes. Of course, even touch buttons can be added into the screen itself and players would be able to feel the location of the buttons thanks to holes under the screen. This gives game developers the freedom to give as many buttons as they wish to players without rendering some buttons useless for certain games. Another use that emphasized in the patent was how the screen could be used as a quick keyboard if need-be.
In other news, there are a few rumors and whispers here and there regarding the system’s power, release window and possible third party support. For example, a lot of rumors point that the NX should be a powerful console. So powerful in fact, that apparently, the tech demo was only able to run on “cutting edge” computers with “industry leading” chips. This does give some hope as Nintendo has generally went with the ideology that a great console isn’t measured by its hardware capabilities. So, this is different from the Wii/Wii U era.
Other patents show that the NX will not be featuring an optical disk drive. This means that the NX will an all-digital platform. However, it was found that an optional model will have a disk drive. This is likely to respect the fans who aren’t too fond with parting their physical copy collectibles.
The Nintendo Triforce: 3DS, Wii U and NX? :
Of course, there is also the question of what happens to the struggling Wii U and the widely successful 3DS. Although the NX is supposed to be the successor to Nintendo’s dedicated gaming platforms, they stated that both the Wii U and 3DS will continue to be supported. This is was demonstrated with Nintendo’s new rewards program which they have shown will incorporate everything Nintendo. This new system, which will replace the Club Nintendo rewards program, will be accessible on the NX, Wii U, 3DS, mobile devices and computers. It will be called “My Nintendo”.
Of course, the question of when will this new box drop is still a mystery and will continue to be until Nintendo sheds some light. Until then, there are a few rumors and speculation left to chew. Many have been doubting the ending 2016 release window Nintendo had slipped in. Many deem it too soon a release after official unveiling, which should take place this coming E3 in June.
However, word has been going around that mass production of the NX are supposed to go live by the end of the first quarter of 2016. Also, mass shipments should be underway during the second quarter of the year as well. Furthermore, Nintendo is hoping to reach 20 million shipments in 2016.
If you thought that wasn’t enough, another rumor appeared very recently stating that we should be expecting the house of Mario to reveal the NX during the first or second quarter of 2016 and a November 2016 release window. If all this is true, 2016 is going to be a very fast-paced year for Nintendo. Revealing and releasing a console in the same year is somewhat of a unicorn. It is also bad for marketing as not enough time will have passed to generate hype. Nintendo is playing a dangerous game with the NX.
It’s All About The Games:
Of course, Nintendo is generally known to provide its platforms with an array of first-party titles that effectively sell the console. The very reason one buys a Nintendo console is to play these famous names such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros and the like. However, as we saw with Wii U, it is not enough to survive in the long term. Nintendo will need some more third party support.
To attract third party titles, Nintendo will have to make its console able to compete with other platforms. Being on an even playing field in terms of hardware is what encourages developers to include them in multiplatform releases. I believe this is what encouraged Nintendo to make a stronger platform.
This leads some companies who have already said or rumored to work on the NX. Some big names are already interested such as Capcom and Square Enix. It was said that Square Enix was even interested in porting Final Fantasy XIV unto the NX as well. In other news, Dragon Quest XI was also announced to release on the 3DS, PS4 and the NX. It is a big deal when a popular title announces its release on a console still going by its codename.
Of course, some titles from Nintendo are no doubt hot in the works. This would explain the shortage in Wii U releases in 2016. There was a rumor going around months ago mentioning a possible Diddy Kong Racing 2. The people behind Metroid Prime also stated that perhaps the next Metroid Prime will be on NX. Even the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda title in the works for the Wii U is still a mystery to us. Many, myself included, believe that Nintendo may pull the same thing they did with Twilight Princess and release on both Wii U and NX.
In The End:
Needless to say, ladies an gentlemen, do take all of this with a huge grain of salt as 90% of this is based on rumor and speculation and no one has any idea when Nintendo will really show off their secret box. They were pretty clear that no word will come out before 2016 arrives and we have only just begun the year. Of course, anticipation can only grow as we come closer to the official unveiling. Let us hope Nintendo does this one right and that the truth is even more surprising than all that we think we know.
I personally believe that NX is a hybrid platform. That would fuse their two markets and ensure they work towards a single platform that can cater to a much wider audience. Of course, it will also for new and unexplored themes and ideas which developers could incorporate in future titles. As pioneers of the industry, one would expect Nintendo to try something radical and unique to give players new experiences. What are your hopes and worries on the NX? Do you believe we will truly see a release before 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below!