If you type “Nintendo NX” into Google, I can almost guarantee* you that the first dozen articles listed will be speculative or presumptuous in nature. Why? As discussed in Part 1 of this series, Nintendo has been tight-lipped about their upcoming console since former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made mention of it at the March 17th, 2015 ‘Business and Capital Alliance Announcement.’ Consequently, very little is known about the “NX”, yet that has not stopped almost every gaming and technology website from posting regular updates on how it is progressing.
Seriously, every day there are new articles claiming to have uncovered some new information about the “NX”. It’s becoming hard to keep up with all the bullshit. Well, I strive only to produce bull-quality, so to save you time trolling through all the filler and pointless conjecture, this part of the series is an in-depth summary of the most popular and well-supported presumptions about the console codenamed “NX”.
* Not actual guarantee. Based on speculation.
- The “NX” is a hybrid device rather than a dedicated home or portable console.
Support for the “NX” being a home console:
On August 20th, 2015, a patent filed by Nintendo depicting a “stationary game apparatus, game apparatus, game system, recording medium and speed control method” was made public. It is speculated that this “stationary game apparatus” hardware is related to the Nintendo “NX”. Interestingly, “the example system is not provided with an optical disk drive for reading out a program and/ or data from an optical disk”- potentially suggesting a disc-less future for Nintendo. The patent does note that the hardware has slots for memory cards.
In an interview published by 4Gamer (translated copy located here) on December 29th, 2015, president and CEO of Koei Tecmo, Yoichi Erikawa made a comparison between the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo “NX”, placing the “NX” under the banner of home console.
“4Gamer: Lately it seems that [home] consoles haven’t been doing too well, but is that the case? At least that’s what we’re wondering.
Erikawa: Actually, I think that it’ll start doing much better. The PlayStation 4 has recently surpassed 2 million units in nationwide sales, and Nintendo announced a new ‘machine’ called the NX. From this point forward, I believe that each company will make clear commitments for these machines.”
Support for the “NX” having portable console elements:
On December 10th, 2015, a further patent application from Nintendo was published. This patent depicts a portable console with a free form display. The exact details of this patent will be discussed in depth in Part 3 of this series.
Support for the “NX” having both home console and portable elements:
On October 16th, 2015, the Wall Street Journal published an article (“Nintendo being distributing software kit for new NX platform”) outlining details about the “NX” provided by “people familiar with the development plans”.
“The exact shape of the NX hardware isn’t yet clear. People familiar with the development plans said Nintendo would likely include both a console and at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use.” — Extract from the WSJ article provided by Kotaku
2. The “NX” will feature “industry leading hardware”
The same article from the Wall Street Journal claimed that:
“[People familiar with the development plans] said Nintendo would aim to put industry-leading chips in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U’s capabilities didn’t match those of competitors.”
Nintendo are known for their creative approach to the video game industry, often at the expense of graphical and processing power. It would be nice to see Nintendo’s new console able to rival the hardware capabilities of the PS4 and XboxOne (or their successors), and would do the brand a world of good (provided the surprising and creative elements remain).
3. The “NX” will be backwards compatible
This is a popular internet rumour unsupported by any official statements from Nintendo employees but due to the backwards compatibility of past Nintendo consoles, it is assumed that the “NX” will also have this capability.
4. The “NX” will be released for sale in 2016
This is the most popular internet theory and perhaps the one with the most supporting “evidence”.
Firstly, on July 2nd, 2015, DigiTimes reported (“Supply Chain players gear up for new Nintendo Console“) that “[Nintendo] has asked its supply chain partners to start pilot production [of the NX] in October,” further noting that “orders are expected to be finalized in February or March 2016 and mass production will start in May or June 2016, while the console’s official launch may take place around July.”
Remember, this information was provided to DigiTimes by “sources” so it is important to consider these dates with a bucket of salt.
Then again, on October 16th, 2015, the Wall Street Journal (“Nintendo being distributing software kit for new NX platform”) reported that “Nintendo Co. has begun distributing a software development kit for its new NX videogame platform… suggesting the company is on track to introduce the product as early as next year.” My own insider source suggests that this may only be to the triple A developers at this stage but at the very least, there are two sources touting a 2016 release date for very different, potentially legitimate reasons.
It is also important to consider that Nintendo’s games line-up announcement for WiiU/ 3DS 2016 at E3 in 2015 was weak, fuelling speculation that big titles were being saved for the new console. Most notably, the latest Legend of Zelda game, expected to be released in 2015 or at least showcased at E3 2015 has been delayed until 2016. Many speculate this is to coincide with the release of the “NX” – a move that would be strikingly similar to the delays of the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess back in 2005 to coincide with the release of the Wii in 2006.
Furthermore, Square Enix have publically announced that their upcoming Dragon Quest XI title is being considered for the Nintendo NX. It is highly likely that Dragon Quest XI will be released this year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Dragon Quest franchise, and thus, to be on the Nintendo NX, the console would have to drop this year as well.
So there you have it, four of the more popular and well-supported theories about the Nintendo “NX”. Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series in which I discuss the patent application published on December 10, 2015, which seems to depict a portable gaming console from Nintendo. Could it be the “NX”? [Insert non-committal statement here]