Are Nintendo's New NX Specs Enough to Lure Developers?

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Nintendo has started sending out development kits for its newest system currently titled the “NX.”

While little is still known about the system, the report suggests that Nintendo may release the NX in 2016 due to the softness of the 3DS and Wii U.

According to the report “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.”

The report also states that the kit is being used by third-part developers to modify existing games for the NX, or create entirely new ones.

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These details along with the patent dump revealing what could have been the NX, are shaping the NX to be a device unique from the PS4 and Xbox One. While the details are still sparse, what appears to remain true is Nintendo’s commitment to innovation. What’s more interesting to me is how much it seems like features from that “fake” NX video are starting to show up in the final product. Perhaps Nintendo was watching and taking notes?

However, a mobile unit that can be used in conjunction with the NX sounds an awful lot like what Sony did with the PS4/Vita. And after what seemed like years of Sony taking ideas from Nintendo (the Playstation Move was a pretty lazy copy of the Wii Remotes, and the Vita tried pretty hard to emulate some of the 3DS’ tricks) it’s interesting to see Nintendo taking notes from Sony. However, I can’t help but wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. The DS and 3DS were both designed to work with the Wii and Wii U respectively, so why didn’t Nintendo ever combine the two for a proper “two-screen experience?”

Truthfully, the NX’s lack of a disk drive still interests me the most. If you look at the NX concept patent, the NX lacks a disk drive, however it maintains a component from reading from flash based “memory cards.” Whether the NX will be fully digital (which, let’s face it even Nintendo isn’t magical enough to execute with perfect precision) is still up for debate, but the possibility of returning to cartridges excites me not only because I’m a child of the 90’s and its nostalgia value is through the roof, but developing from flash on individual cartridges would give a lot more freedom to developers in the creation process.

While disc-based games became a market standard because they were the best way to write and store large amounts of data, plus they allowed games to become multi-media devices, anything that can be achieved now through optical discs, can be achieved more efficiently through flash. And if Nintendo honors the late Satoru Iwata’s claims that the NX will be a “console dedicated for video games,” as most Nintendo systems are (cry all you want that you can’t watch a DVD on your Wii U, but I load up a game console to play games), then it doesn’t seem unlikely that the NX could be a console-based gaming system. Nintendo has the power to take an idea from the past, and change the face of gaming future.

All of these details are interesting and exciting, but without a proper physical console or developers who have worked with it (detailing what it’s actually capable of), it’s is only so much smoke blown from Nintendo. It’s easy to take it a face value and believe this is going to be a system on par with the PS4 and the Xbox One, however keeping up with current consoles has never been a part of Nintendo’s  strategy.

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It’s hard to think that Nintendo will replicate what that fake video did, allowing you to play Wii U, 3DS or even NX games on a mobile or tablet device considering how stingy they are when it comes to emulators and even let’s plays. The idea of Nintendo games on a non-Nintendo product just doesn’t seem likely, although with their upcoming foray into the mobile market anything could be possible.

Frankly, I don’t know about chips and processors and all that business, so it could have the shiniest, fanciest chips in all the land and I wouldn’t be able to notice. I’ve never been of the notion that a game needed to have the best graphics or the most power to deliver a fun experience.

In my opinion, what Nintendo needs to do for the NX to be a success is reinvent their development strategy. If the NX will be a system that’s easy to develop for and a big third-party push can happen on the NX (and I mean good third-party companies, not every John, Dick and Harry that made games for the Wii) and Nintendo loosens their stranglehold on their own IP to allow developers to do interesting and unique things with Nintendo licenses, then I think the NX has the potential to surpass the PS4 and Xbox One.

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