Coming off of the heels of the “dud” the Wii U is rapidly being seen as, Nintendo is poised to regain their control of the console game market with the NX, a new console that Nintendo touts as another new innovation in video games. Trying to capture the interest of the consumer by testing the bounds of gaming technology as they did with the DS and original Wii, Nintendo is not only going for another wild redesign of the modern game-console, it is also breaking it’s policy of taking their time with hardware releases (though not so much as of late) and is nearly rushing this new console to the market. Though Nintendo fans are more than eager to purchase Nintendo’s latest offering, there are quite a lot of skeptics in the market that are questioning Nintendo’s course of action.
It is clear that the hasty revelation of this new console only two years after the release of the Wii U (even touting a possible release date as early as next year) is a sign that Nintendo is going into overdrive with overhauling their business and manufacturing model in order to stay competitive after. Though the Wii U is a stellar console in it’s own right, it was not without it’s issues. Unlike the Wii, the Wii U lacked a clear path and vision as to what features and gimmicks would set it apart from the competition, which eroded consumer interest. A lackluster set of launch titles and questionable interface issues also kept it down from the start as well. Though you can credit Nintendo’s effort to emulate the successes of their competitors, it was clear that it was not thought out very well prior to release. The NX is a new outing for Nintendo just as much as it is damage control.
Though Nintendo has been generally tight lipped about the details and specifications about their new console, but with the release of some information we can begin to paint a picture of how the system will operate. The majority of the rumor-buzz is around what media will be used for software. The rumor of the system being Android-based has been officially debunked, but given that console games have been rapidly moving to a digital format as opposed to a physical one (which gives them more control over content and earnings from it) this is not entirely unfounded, and we may even see a hybrid version of physical and digital media as we saw with the previous generation of game consoles. Only this time done on a smaller scale. Patent documents that were released showed hints of a cartridge slot suited for SD cards or other type of portable media.
If it is one thing Nintendo really needs, it is a miracle with the NX. In a stark contrast to the prosperity and near-monopoly they had enjoyed in the 80’s, Nintendo has fallen into last place with their latest system, the Wii U. Given the explosive popularity of the Nintendo Wii in the mid-2000’s, it may come as a shock to the less gaming-savvy that the Wii U is Nintendo’s worst selling game console. This was the result of the haphazard release, poor lineup of launch titles and eroding support from 3rd parties. The largest example of this is EA re-evaluating what it will release for the system, showing clear favoritism towards the more successful Xbox One and the massively popular PlayStation 4. Nintendo needs to follow in the footsteps of the Wii and original DS by trekking their own path instead of resorting to the “me-too” approach of the Wii U for mass appeal. Nintendo’s strong suit has always been about appealing to families and their large, rabidly devoted fanbase which has always equaled success.
Barring the mistakes that were made, gamers can find solace in knowing that Nintendo has listened to all gripes and complains and wished to make good on fixing those. The NX is exactly what that is for, but until Nintendo loosens it’s grip on information (they have formally announced there will be no updates until Q1 2016), we can only assume what strides and changes it will make to their business model, and the console gaming market in general.