Nintendo NX – Fact and Speculation

Nintendo has always been known for radical console designs and breaking the industry mold in terms of what customers think a console “should” be. Whether it was the Wii’s motion controls, the 3DS’ 3D graphics or the DS’ dual screen design, Nintendo has never been afraid to try new things. That’ why Nintendo fans have spent the last few months speculating what the new NX system has in store. And while only time will tell, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the rumor mill.

Let’s start with what little we know. It was recently announced that the NX has a release window of Q3 2016 and expects to sell 10 to 12 million units in year one of the console’s lifespan. Manufacturing of the NX will begin at the end of Q1 2016 with a proper unveiling of the console coming during E3 in June. Amid speculation, Nintendo has completely denied that the system will operate on a version of Android OS. Nintendo has also assured fans that the NX will not be a continuation of the Wii and Wii U, creating an experience that is completely new to gamers. While there are no officially announced NX games, Nintendo stands by the fact that the next entry in the Legend of Zelda franchise will still be coming out on Wii U. However, they have stayed silent on if it will release on NX simultaneously. That’s all the info that has been confirmed or leaked, but that hasn’t stopped fans and industry pros alike from dreaming up what they want to see in Nintendo’s new venture.

In March of 2015, Nintendo announced that they had partnered with mobile game developer DeNA to bring their IP to smartphones. This of course led to ongoing speculation that the NX would benefit from some form of smartphone cross-functionality. As time goes on, the NX and DeNA seem to be mutually exclusive, but the concept of taking the NX on the go has remained a very real possibility. Bolstered by some fairly convincing patents, the predominant theory is that the NX will have a controller that doubles as a handheld gaming system. With declining interest in portable gaming outside of smartphones, it could make sense for Nintendo to consolidate their two platforms into one. However, as the 3DS is still selling well, the controller might be more akin to the Wii U’s gamepad with added remote play capability.

The hardware is certain to change, but what Nintendo fans are really hoping for is a software update. While the Nintendo eShop has always had excellent downloadable titles, it has also been a source of frustration for customers as their purchases don’t transfer from system to system. If you purchase a classic Super Mario game on the Wii, you have to buy it again on the Wii U if you want to have it on both consoles. And that’s not to mention if you want it on 3DS. With the NX, fans are hoping that Nintendo takes a note from Apple’s product lineup and becomes the first console to allow games to be purchased one time and transferred between all current and future devices.

As previously stated, the NX is its own console, and not a spiritual successor to the Wii or Wii U. This could mean that Nintendo is opting to abandon motion controls, instead going with a more traditional controller layout. With that said, it calls into question two smaller rumors that have been circulating around the internet. First, that would make the backwards compatibility that gamers want an impossibility. Nintendo has not specified whether or not the Wii remote or the Wii U GamePad will work with NX. If they don’t, that would render the hundreds of Wii and Wii U games that require those devices useless. Second, there have been rumors lately of the NX having cross functionality with smartphones, PCs and even the PS4 (that last one is especially unlikely). While there is no real evidence that Nintendo has even considered such a bold move, forgoing motion control for a more traditional control scheme would make it easier to accomplish.

Regardless of what ends up being fact and fiction, two things are for sure. One, Nintendo is evolving. After years of taking criticism from stakeholders for not adapting to a changing market, and from fans for catering too much to a casual audience, Nintendo is proving that they are willing to adapt to change while retaining what makes them so special. And two, all the press and speculation prove that Nintendo still has a place among its competitors in the modern gaming marketplace. Nintendo has a great opportunity to reinvent themselves and gamers should be excited for what they have in store.

Needless to say this post is based largely on speculation and internet rumors which may or may not be true. If you disagree with any or the rumors, or if you’ve heard one that we haven’t, be sure to leave a comment below.

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