On this week’s episode of The Issue we discuss the Nintendo NX, the most buzzed-about rumor in the game industry.
The Nintendo NX is by all accounts the Next Big Thing for Nintendo. It was first announced earlier this year, along with Nintendo’s partnership with DeNA, which will be making Nintendo’s mobile games.
Some companies, like Konami, have made the move towards mobile synonymous with abandoning console gaming altogether. Nintendo doesn’t want to go down that road, said then-President Satoru Iwata. The Nintendo NX is “proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business.”
The words he used to describe the NX were “dedicated game platform.” This means new hardware, and it probably means a new box that hooks up to your TV.
But the thing is, we don’t know what that will look like.
“We aim to construct a bridge between smart devices and dedicated video game hardware that connects consumers to our dedicated video game systems,” Iwata said at the time. This, coupled with the timing of the announcement, paints a picture of a device that will partner with your mobile phone—or perhaps the Nintendo 3DS (or its next handheld console, whatever that may be).
The NX, Nintendo stressed, will be different.
Different could mean a lot of things. The last time Nintendo did something truly, incredibly different was with the Wii in 2006. The Wii not only sold well, it made motion gaming what it is today. When the Kinect came out for Xbox in 2010 it didn’t come close to the success of the Wii. Not even the Wii U was able to recreate the Wii’s success.
It’s the Wii U, however, that I believe might give us some clues about the NX. The Wii U’s GamePad controller is revolutionary in the same sense as motion gaming; it just didn’t make as big a splash. At the time, dual-screen integration was something that was strictly in the realm of handheld devices—like the Nintendo 3DS. The GamePad expanded console gaming. Or tried to.
It’s been hard for Nintendo to find a use for that second screen sometimes, and even harder to get third-party developers to care about it.
But now we’re seeing second screens more often, whether in companion apps or games where your phone is the controller (another great example here). I think with the NX we might see mobile phones replacing the GamePad and being used as a link between console and mobile.
In any case, Nintendo didn’t want to talk about this at E3, and we likely won’t know more about the NX until 2016. Until then, I’m sure bits and pieces will keep coming out. Rumors put the launch date for the NX at holiday season 2016. Our prediction is 2017, but I still won’t be putting any money on it.
The games that have been confirmed for the Nintendo NX, like Dragon Quest, will be available for handheld devices as well as consoles. Which means they tell us basically nothing about the NX’s final form. The new Legend of Zelda game, which has been a distant dream for awhile, will probably come out for the NX. So far this game is still confirmed for the Wii U, and that probably won’t change. Nintendo has a history of making its games available to current and previous generation devices—and that backwards compatibility is very appreciated.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted on more Nintendo NX rumors—and facts—as they come our way.