The Nintendo NX is one of the most intriguing consoles of recent years. Nintendo has unofficially revealed the release date of the console (March 2017), but beyond that we don't have any concrete information on what form the new box will take.
What little we do know paints a very strange picture for Nintendo's next console. From the (unconfirmed) reports we've seen so far, the console looks like it's going to be something of a console-handheld hybrid. You'll be able to take it on the go, and then 'dock' it when you're back home in order to seamlessly transition to using it like a traditional console.
This is the great thing about Nintendo. When it comes to the PS5 and the Xbox Two we can be fairly certain that the consoles will be controlled through some fairly typical controllers, and they'll feature a graphical upgrade from the last generation.
But Nintendo is different. It has a way of embracing new technologies, and while it might not always work out for them, it nevertheless makes for some fantastically interesting pieces of hardware.
The Wii introduced motion-controls to the mass-market, the Wii U brought a second screen to console gaming for the first time. The DS was unique for its use of a touch-screen, and the 3DS is the only handheld to have a 3D screen built in.
Nintendo has proven willing to try literally anything in order to reinvent the console, and the Nintendo NX, and its rumored detachable controllers, is no different.
While we're on the topic of controllers, another source has claimed that the Nintendo NX's will deliver a couple of Nintendo firsts, a split D-pad and a 'share' button, similar to those seen on Sony's PS4.
Nintendo NX release date
Currently Nintendo is targeting a March 2017 release date, according to a recent earnings call.
The Wii U was first teased ahead of E3 2011 and debuted in 2012. The 3DS was first announced in early 2010, a year before it came out. The DS was teased in 2003 and revealed in 2004. The Wii is the rare exception because it was teased at E3 2004, shown for the first time a year later, and released over a year after that.
We're hoping for a big reveal later this year if Nintendo wants to build up a good amount of steam for the console's launch next year. The only other option would be to pull an Apple-style announcement on the day of release, but we don't think Nintendo has quite the same abilities as Apple in that regard.
The continually-shrinking portable landscape has led to Nintendo's first major third-party game development, and the Wii U's poor sales performance has likely sped up the NX's timeline.
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Nintendo NX Price
In addition to their unclear identities and unexciting launch slates, high initial price tags were the biggest roadblock for Nintendo's most recent portable and home consoles.
For the NX to succeed at launch, it needs to be the cheapest video game hardware on the market, and by a large margin. Whether it's due to creating the next control innovation or breaking tradition by selling hardware at a loss, you can rest assured Nintendo won't bungle launch pricing for a third consecutive console.
A recent product listing on Tesco's online store priced the product at £349.99 (around $450 / AU$595), but this was quickly removed, indicating that the price was just a placeholder, rather than being official.
We're also inclined to dismiss the listing, which was unearthed by Nintendo Life, because it gave a placeholder release date of 31/12/16, which is a far cry from the March 2017 release date that we've been given so far.
Nintendo's previous generation of consoles, the DS and Wii, gained traction by launching at $150 and $250 (£99.99 and £179.99) respectively, so whether it's focused on dominating your living room or your public transportation commute, Nintendo knows where the sweet spot lays for pricing its consoles.
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime knows what he has to do with the Nintendo NX.
"One of the things that we have to do better when we launch the NX – we have to do a better job communicating the positioning for the product. We have to do a better job helping people to understand its uniqueness and what that means for the game playing experience. And we have to do a better job from a software planning standpoint to have that continuous beat of great new games that are motivating more and more people to pick up the hardware and more and more people to pick up the software," Fils-Aime told Eurogamer.
The company has hinted at a dramatically different system in the NX, and that will mean it will take extra effort on Nintendo's part to sell it to the already-leery gaming public.
Another interesting fact that came out of the last few months is that Nintendo might have its eye set on making the NX the company's first VR console. In a shareholders meeting the company admitted it was "researching" VR technology, according to someone who was present.
Twitter's NStyles attended the meeting in Kyoto and claims Nintendo's Shigeru Minamoto said Nintendo was researching VR but has concerns about users playing for long periods of time.
He also added that Nintendo wants to release a device that carries value, is affordable, and wants parents to "feel at ease". Typical Nintendo to care about our eye health while the rest of the market charges forward haphazardly.
Further, the Nintendo NX may support some form of heart rate-monitoring hardware. According to Commercial Times, a Chinese integrated circuit design company called Pixart has been ramping up production of itsCMOS-based hear-rate monitoring sensor that will go into several next-gen VR headsets and – more interestingly – Nintendo's next home console.
What we know so far:
- It's going to have Pokemon games
- It might not be as powerful as the PS4
- Nintendo NX leak: is this our first look at the new console?
- Did the new Zelda: Breath of the Wind trailer tease an NX controller?
- Nintendo denies rumor it's putting the Wii U into early retirement
- This leaked picture of the prototype NX controller is a hoax
- Nintendo talks plans for 2016: smartphones, NX and roller coasters
- The NX might launch with the next Legend of Zelda game according to leak
- A marketing partner for Nintendo confirmed third-party support for the NX
- A survey from Nintendo's marketing firm might've leaked the NX's specs
- The NX's controller could be a combination of previous Nintendo pads
- Nintendo NX could replace both the Wii U and 3DS
- Here's what the Nintendo NX controller (console?) could look like
- The Nintendo NX won't run Android
- It exists, but Iwata said it won't be ready in 2015
- Dragon Quest XI could be the NX's first game
- It's available for pre-order at select retailers
- Nintendo will still support the Wii U and 3DS after the NX launches
- Here's what Super Mario looks like on Unreal Engine 4
While some might not be ready to move on past the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, there's good reason for the expediency: while Sony (and to a lesser extent, Microsoft) can potentially match their earlier successes with their latest batch of consoles, the Wii U will almost definitely go down in history as Nintendo's worst-selling console.
Just how dire is Nintendo's need to jump ship on the Wii U? It's currently sitting at around 10 million units sold, and even a new Legend of Zelda game won't likely double system sales to the point where it can match the GameCube's near 22-million sales mark, let alone the Wii's 100 million unit high-bar.
The path to the NeXt Nintendo system
Nintendo's greatest successes were due to the company taking its biggest risks. Its top-selling portable was the Nintendo DS, a portable console with a second, touch-enabled screen that many scoffed at before it revolutionized handheld gaming.
Likewise, the original Wii far outpaced every previous TV-tethered system, and it did so by treading its own path, eschewing the standard controls with a revolutionary motion-controlled setup that some competitors are still attempting to mimic.
If Nintendo wants to see the NX succeed it'll need to etch these lessons into memory. Should it follow in the footsteps of the 3DS or Wii U, however, all hope may be lost.
The Nintendo 3DS originally stumbled, and Wii U has outright failed is truly differentiating themselves from their direct predecessors. Both assumed that the previous generation's record-breaking install base wanted more of the same, so they both came with extensive backwards compatibility and names that recalled the previous generation.
The 3DS only broke out of its funk after drastically dropping its price while also debuting a new Zelda and 3D Mario game. The same might be in-store for the Wii U, though the reveal of the NX means its clock is ticking.
How will the NX be different?
For the NX, a new control method is in the works after the Wii U's controller/touch-screen hybrid failed to inspire widespread developer support.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata even said as much when first announcing the console, saying it will incorporate a "brand-new concept." When you take into account the other major change Nintendo revealed during that same event (a commitment to develop smartphone games), Nintendo's 25-year-old dual-pronged strategy of leaning on both a portable and home console could come to a close this decade. Even though the 3DS is currently Nintendo's saving grace, developing a games-only portable device is becoming more and more of a risk in this day and age.
Ever since the release of the GameCube Nintendo has consistently had the least-powerful system on the market. Given how much stock Sony and Microsoft put into creating cutting-edge tech, that's not likely to change. They've done touchscreens, they've done motion-controls ... heck, Nintendo was doing VR two decades ago, so what's the next possible realm to tackle?
With the NX, currently rumors are suggesting that Nintendo will create a console-portable hybrid. The Wii U dipped its toe in letting users take their games on the go by letting them play on a Gamepad as long as they were in proximity to a Wii U console. But if Nintendo creates an Xbox One/PS4-level system that you can take on the go, then you're playing with power.
How powerful will the NX be?
Without an official announcement from Nintendo, it's hard to say exactly how powerful the Nintendo NX will be, but we can make some assumptions based around the reports that are available.
According to the Eurogamer report, the NX is set to contain a version of Nvidia's Tegra chip which was last seen in the company's Nvidia Shield. Unfortunately the nature of this chip means that it's not possible to draw direct comparisons between it and the competition from Sony and Microsoft.
The Tegra X1 (which reports suggest is currently running inside NX dev kits) might be the most powerful mobile chip currently on the market, but at the end of the day it's a mobile rather than a desktop chip, and this means that it's unlikely that the console will match the power of the PS4 or Xbox One.
However, we should stress that we currently don't have any more specific information on the exact specifics of the Tegra chip that will make it into the final console, and as such all of this information is subject to change.
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