What don’t we know about the Nintendo NX?

One of the many imaginings of the new Nintendo NX

It’s no secret NX is coming. Nintendo has even promised more information in 2016 — we just don’t when in 2016.

That’s not all we don’t know.

We don’t know what NX is. We don’t know how powerful it is. We don’t know when it’s coming out. And we don’t know if it’ll have another Wii-style gimmick.

It’s tough for information-hungry Nintendo fans. We’re desperate to know more. Sometimes that leads us to buy into fake leaks on blogs on forums; even when those leaks are obviously nothing more than fanboy fantasies.

Fortunately, there’s lots of good Nintendo NX info around. Together we’re going to navigate it — without jumping to any stupid conclusions.

Disclaimer: By the end of this article, we’ll know everything NX might turn out to be — but we won’t know a single thing for sure! If you are looking for guarantees, this isn’t the article for you.

Nintendo NX is definitely a ‘dedicated video game system’

One thing we’re 100% on is that Nintendo NX is a “dedicated game system” — not a phone, an app, or that mysterious Quality of Life (QoL) thing Nintendo mentioned in 2014.

We know because this was one of the slides from Nintendo’s March 2015 investor presentation:

The NX hardware will tie into a new membership service that Nintendo is developing with DeNA.

NX: Handheld or Home Console?

The popular 3DS against the not-so-popular Wii U

There’s a good case for NX being a handheld:

  • 3DS has been out almost five years, having launched Feb 2011. Wii U is almost two years younger. It seems likely 3DS would be replaced first.
  • Nintendo has been a lot more successful with its handheld (3DS) than its home system (Wii U) this generation.
  • The handheld market is booming in Nintendo’s home country Japan, while home console sales are dwindling

Then again, there are reasonable arguments for NX being a home console:

  • New President Tatsumi Kimishima has mentioned Wii U and NX in the same breath: “Those 10 million customers who have a Wii U… we can’t just abandon them and say ‘Hey, it’s time to move on to the next thing.’ Of course, we are working on NX.”
  • Wii U doesn’t have many new games coming and its sales are terrible. In other words, it’ll soon be dead. To not replace Wii U would mean abandoning the home console market — not a likely move for Nintendo; they’ve had a home platform since 1983.

NX might use a new iOS-like cross-device architecture

The cross-device Nintendo NX?

But there are more possibilities, besides handheld vs home console.

In a February 2014 investor presentation, former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said:

“[W]e are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.

“Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models. The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like [that]. Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future.”

The key points we can take from this are:

  • Iwata wanted Nintendo’s next handheld and home console to run the same games; the way Android devices run the same apps.
  • Nintendo has given serious thought to making “just one device” instead of a separate handheld and home system.

NX could also be a home console AND a handheld

Iwata’s comments raise more possibilities for the Nintendo NX.

Suppose Nintendo is making its own multi-device software platform, like iOS and Android but for games. Then maybe NX isn’t the name of a single system — maybe NX is the name of that new platform. In that case, we could be getting an NX handheld and an NX home console, both of which are able to play the same games.

Advances in gaming

We also shouldn’t ignore Iwata’s “just one device” comment. Today’s mobile computing technology is amazing — we have 4K phones! So it’s possible (but unlikely) NX could be a portable HD console you can also use on the TV.

New Nintendo patents might hold secrets about NX

And there’s even more evidence to consider.

All of Nintendo’s recent systems have had ‘gimmicks’ that differentiated them from PlayStation and Xbox. DS had a touch screen. Wii had motion control. 3DS had 3D. Wii U had the GamePad. New Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima has confirmed: “I can assure you we’re not building the next version of Wii or Wii U. It’s something unique and different.”

This might suggest another new gimmick and we know from recent patents that Nintendo is working on them.

Perhaps the most interesting new Nintendo patent is this one:

New Nintendo Patent recently filed

The full patent shows what looks like a game controller or handheld console, with an edge-less display and two control sticks set into the screen. Is this patent at the heart of NX? Only time will !

NX’s specs and power compared to PS4/XBO are unknown

A lot of fans wish Nintendo would get back in the power race with PlayStation and Xbox.

With Wii U, that led to a lot of wishful thinking written up as fact… followed by disappointment at Wii U’s final specs.

Right now, we do not know how powerful NX will be. But…

Developers might already be making games for it

We don’t know the NX specs, but some game developers might.

In October 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Nintendo Co. has begun distributing a software development kit for its new NX videogame platform.” But its sources were sketchy — the newspaper cited ‘people familiar with the matter.’

Dragon Quest XI set for release on the NX

It sounds like Japanese game company Square Enix already has one of those kits. When revealing new game Dragon Quest XI in July 2015, producer said: “Dragon Quest XI, which we announced today, as well as Dragon Quest X, which I’m working as a producer, are planned for release on the NX, which Nintendo is currently developing.”

History suggests the final name won’t be NX

‘NX’ sounds like an ok name. But history suggests it won’t be called that upon release.

The Nintendo Revolution….err we mean Wii

Nintendo’s last three consoles have all had codenames. Gamecube was ‘Project Dolphin.’ Wii was ‘Nintendo Revolution.’ And Wii U was ‘Project Café.’ None of those names stuck, so ‘NX’ probably won’t either.

Kimishima has also referred to NX as strictly a codename. “As for the codename NX, I don’t believe that there’s any real meaning behind it,” he told Time.

A 2016 Nintendo NX launch isn’t certain — it could be 2017

Looking forward to playing Nintendo NX, whatever it turns out to be? We’ll find out more about it in 2016. And at least one credible analyst has predicted a 2016 launch, “because of the softness of 3DS and Wii U.”

But history again urges caution. Gamecube, Wii and Wii U were all revealed more than a year before launch. That might make 2017 a more likely launch window.

A recap on nothing

So now you know… very little. NX could be a home console, a portable, a software platform or some weird hybrid. We’re not sure what’s going to make it “unique.” It could be powerful or weak. And we don’t know what it’s really called, or when it’s coming.

But if you’re anything like me, you do know this: NX is full of possibilities, and you’re hyped as hell.

More from Console Deals

Thanks for taking the time to read, feel free to check out our other gaming articles over at our blog.

Or why not check out what we thought were the most memorable gaming moments of 2015?

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