Nintendo has announced that they are developing a new — next-generation console for gamers with the tentative designation. “NX”, which will not likely remain as the system’s name once it gets further along in development. While details on the new console are scarce, Nintendo did say that the NX will be compatible with a new service that Nintendo will be leveraging across the Wii U, 3DS, and even smart phones and PCs. This news came alongside the announcement that Nintendo has partnered with Japanese company DeNa, which will begin developing new titles for smart phones staring Nintendo characters.
Nintendo has been reluctant to get into the mobile game market with the understandable fear that extending their gaming franchises to the smart phone market would diminish their handheld 3DS console and software sales. However, the company has been dipping their toes into the market with the recent release of Pokemon Shuffle, a puzzle matching game that was distributed for free to gamers with a Nintendo 3DS. Pokemon Shuffle uses a micro-transaction currency system common to most free-to-play smart phone games. It would not be surprising to this editor if the title ended up on smartphones, as it clearly draws influence from that sphere, and in light of the announcement made about the new services that Nintendo will be offering its fan-base.
While some may take this to mean that Nintendo has given up on the Wii U as a system, I for one hope they don’t as I have been quite pleased with the system myself. The NX is described as a new “concept” console, so its possible we will have a situation something like the Virtual Boy or the Nintendo 3DS (which wasn’t originally intended to take the Gameboy’s place) where Nintendo is innovating or integrating technology into a new platform for a three-system generation. Given the announcements made earlier, it may even be possible that Nintendo is working on its own smart phone or PC in hopes of competing in those markets. Connecting to other comments made by Nintendo, the NX might also be a dedicated fitness/wellness system for games such as Wii Fit, which would give the company a niche that hasn’t really been touched by the other big name game companies. They certainly have the vision and technology for any of these possibilities, in my opinion. My only fear is that they may be over extending their reach, much like Sega did with the Sega CD and Saturn.
Going back to the issue of the new multi-platform service, my hope is that it is a newly revamped virtual store. While it is true that the current 3DS and Wii U services are in some ways connected, gamers that purchase a game that is available on both platforms will only have it on a single device, which is non-transferable unless you do a full system transfer. A unified sales platform with cross purchase available, such as what Sony and Steam offer on their platforms, would be a huge deal, especially with a third console thrown into the mix. Such a move would also make it so Sony and Steam would not be the only ones able to boast about their cross-buy capabilities. I also expect this service to, in one form or another, take the place of the recently expired Club Nintendo, which would make sense given vague statements about a new service taking its place. Regardless of what emerges as we learn about the new multi-platform service and the new NX console, I am sure it will be worth following. Nintendo has rarely disappointed me, certainly not in their main franchises, and I am sure that their new innovations are going to reflect the changing markets and moves of their competitors.
What do you think of these announcements, Nation? Post your thoughts below as we fire up the rumor mill for speculation! And don’t forget to follow our Twitter account @APGNation as we continue to cover this emerging story!