I’ve been bearish on Nintendo for a while now, regarding their handling of the WiiU and their next console, codenamed NX. Even as a Nintendo fan, and someone that thinks the WiiU actually does have some great games on it, the realistic part of me is already finding fault with the rumors of what the NX exactly is. That said, in recent days, I’ve found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, Nintendo has learned from the WiiU, and is on the verge of launching an incredibly popular system.
- It is launching mid-generation, much like the WiiU, throwing out of the console cycle.
- It is reported to be on par with the PS4, at best, meaning that, in terms of power, it could find itself behind almost from its launch as the PS4 and Xbox One are upgraded.
- It has yet to be revealed, in spite of launching in March of 2017, so all hype is built only on rumors.
- If my second point is true, will third parties ignore it instead of downgrading their games for it (which they stopped doing for the Wii, and essentially never did for the WiiU)?
There are other points, but you get the idea. I guess, once a company has experienced a stumble on the level that Nintendo has experience with the WiiU, you want to hope for the best while expecting the worst with their next venture. That’s the stance I’ve been taking with the NX. I hope it’s good, but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s met with tepid sales and lackluster fandom.
But…but there is a market that Nintendo knows, and has never stumbled in. Nintendo knows the handheld market. Nintendo has been challenged multiple times (Game Gear, NeoGeo, PSP) and has always come out on top. Even with the WiiU floundering, the 3DS is still chugging along, practically embarrassing the Vita (which begs the question, why does Falcom insist on sticking the new Ys games on the Vita, forcing me to consider getting one in the very near future???).
Now, this brings me back to the NX. It is almost certainly going to be a console/handheld hybrid. There are simply too many rumors from reputable sources for this not to be true. What if Nintendo markets the NX the same way they’ve marketed the 3DS, DS, GBA, etc…? What it Nintendo treats the NX as a handheld with television features? Yes, it’s their next console, but it’s also their next handheld, and Nintendo knows handhelds. It occurred to me, if this is the path Nintendo is truly committing to, the NX could be amazing.
For one, it destroys the stigma of launching mid-generation. Handhelds aren’t held to the same standard as consoles in regards to when they’re launched. If it’s even close to the PS4, it’ll be viewed as extremely powerful if you take it on the go (and while I have my concerns, having a console at that level is hardly a bad thing). Also, if it’s a handheld even part of the time, why would third parties not port to it. That’s an entirely different market for them.
Finally, I think the most important development to come out of this is that for the first time since around 1990, Nintendo won’t be developing games for both a handheld and a console simultaneously. For the first time in 25 years, game development will be focused on one machine, and I don’t think the importance of that can be overstated. If you disagree, think of it this way. Years ago, I stated that if Nintendo wanted to shift a few million WiiU consoles, simply release a mainstream Pokemon title to the system. Pokemon sells. Period. A Pokemon game, by itself, would bring sales. I believed it them, I believe it now. Guess what. It’s happening with the NX. Granted, we don’t know what it will be yet, but rumors are that it is a remake of Pokemon Red/Blue. If true, that would be huge. And it’s possible now because Game Freak (after Sun/Moon) can shift their focus to Nintendo’s next handheld, which just happens to be their next console.
Okay, this is all speculation on my part. The 3DS definitely still has life in it, so if continues to sell well, it will remain supported, and that could muddy the waters. There’s also the chance that I’m reading Nintendo’s intentions all wrong here. I don’t have an inside line or anything, I’m just making assumptions based on the rumors we have to work with. But I’m an eternal optimist, and I love Nintendo, so I’m doing all I can to see this in the best possible light, and I truly believe there’s a path for Nintendo to have a massive success with the the NX.