Nintendo’s new gaming platform will encompass a console and a handheld according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal.
According to the paper:
The exact shape of the NX hardware isn’t yet clear. People familiar with the development plans said Nintendo would likely include both a console and at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use. They also said Nintendo would aim to put industry-leading chips in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U’s capabilities didn’t match those of competitors.
Nintendo has traditionally sold consoles and handhelds as separate devices that have little connection to each other. If the WSJ report is correct, that would be changing. How much it’d change is hard to say. It’s unclear if the NX platform would be offered to gamers and consumers as two separate devices, or if the “console” and “mobile unit” would be one bundled offering. But it does seem like the platform would further merge Nintendo’s long-separate console and handheld gaming strategies.
Update - 10:40am: The reporter who broke the story for the Journal said on Twitter that NX platform is “likely to have... more than two devices.” That further emphasizes the idea that the NX could be a family of machines that work together rather than a single unified device. We’ve updated this article’s original headline “Report: Nintendo’s Next Platform NX Is A Console-Handheld Hybrid” to be more clear that, while the platform of the NX seems to merge ideas of console and handheld, we don’t know if there will be any one device that does that all in one. I apologize for confusion on that point.
Nintendo’s current console, the Wii U, was a figurative half-step toward combining console and handheld hardware designs. The device is designed like a traditional console to display games on a TV, but its primary controller contains a screen that can either be used as a secondary display or can display a Wii U game in lieu of using a TV at all. The catch is that the Wii U controller screen only works within several feet of the console and can’t be used as an entirely untethered portable device like dedicated portable, the 3DS.
The Journal’s report also states that Nintendo has begun distributing a “software development kit” for the NX platform. That squares with what we’d heard recently from a reliable Kotaku source that Nintendo was planning to reach out to more developers about the NX this month, but we’d been unable to confirm details about the platform nor second-source the October timeframe prior to today’s WSJ report.
We’ve reached out to Nintendo for comment (and will be stunned if they provide one). The Kyoto gaming giant had promised to reveal information about the machine in 2016. The WSJ reports that the console could be introduced next year.
Update - 2:08pm: Nintendo’s non-comment comment to us about all this is: “As we previously announced, we will not comment further on NX until 2016.”
The prospect of a hybrid/combo strategy for the next Nintendo console and handheld is tantalizing and also seems to be compatible with Nintendo’s current product schedule. Nintendo’s newest home console, the Wii U, is clearly winding down and its successful 3DS line of handhelds is due for a major generational advance. Nintendo basically needs a new console and a new handheld and has a wide open spot in 2016 to introduce both.
Nintendo has traditionally split development across its handheld and console lines but has hinted to Kotaku that development could be merged in the future. Nintendo’s late president Satoru Iwata also spoke last year about the company switching to an approach that used one operating system for handheld and console devices, similar to iOS working across multiple Apple devices.
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