This is an exciting time to be following Nintendo hype and speculation. Back in March of this year, the big N announced that it was developing a new gaming platform code named the “NX.” Not a whole lot is known about the NX, but we have gotten a few nuggets of truth from Nintendo:
- The NX will use a new unified operating system that will be utilized across multiple form factors (essentially meaning that the OS would be the same for multiple systems: dedicated consoles, gaming handhelds and other mobile devices). This would allow for all software to be developed on the same OS for all form factors and would make scaling the production of games so that they could play on both a home console and a handheld possible.
- NX Software Development Kits were distributed this week to game developers, and the kit confirmed that there would at least be a new home console and a new handheld at some point (which will come first is a mystery at this point).
- We will find out a whole lot more in 2016, according to Reggie Fils-Aimé: the President of Nintendo America at E3 2015.
…And that’s about it. There has been a ton of speculation about the NX, such as:
- It’s a hybrid console/handheld
- The controller may feature a revolutionary touch panel feature
- It’s as powerful/more powerful than a PS4 (pick or choose)
- It will launch fall 2016
- It’s 3 Wiis duct taped together with a GBA as the controller
- It will have no optical drive, opting instead to use SD Card like cartridges or digital downloads only
- It will be backwards compatible with the Wii/Wii U
- It will have a refined online experience, similar to the PlayStation Network and/or Xbox Live
- It will be region free (lol, it will totally be region locked because: Nintendo)
- Etc., so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda…
But that’s all they are – speculation. We don’t really know much at all about the NX, and that’s why we are living in exciting times. Anything is still possible with this new system(s?), and there will be a bevy of surprises and letdowns between now and the official launch. What I would like to do, is not necessarily add to the hot mess of speculation, but instead lay out a plan for what the NX needs to be in order to be successful worldwide. Consider this an open letter to Nintendo, because I genuinely want them to succeed with this new concept. So here we go!
Creatively Push In New Directions: Nintendo is well known for their iconic intellectual properties – Mario, Legend of Zelda, Kirby, Pokémon, Star Fox, Animal Crossing, and many more. They will continue to leverage these properties in new and familiar ways because it makes sound business sense. I understand this and believe that it is a smart move. That being said, Nintendo needs to continue to take risks and to develop new IP and fresh takes on existing IP. Give some of your brighter minds a chance to shine. Look at the success of Splatoon and realize, that if the idea is great (and the marketing too!) then you will almost certainly have a hit on your hands. Push the envelope a bit with the new system and make some new games that stay faithful to the Nintendo legacy, while at the same time appeal to an audience outside of your regular customers. Shooters, RPGs, Adventure Games, Creative Games. Go wild and show us something new and exciting!
Mea Culpa – 3rd Party Support: it’s time to mend fences with your third party partners. Nintendo consoles use to be a home for a wide variety of third party favorites: Madden, Mortal Kombat, Call of Duty and Resident Evil to name a few, yet none of these high profile titles appear on Nintendo home consoles now. It’s an unfortunate scenario, and one that needs to be remedied ASAP if the big N has any hope of competing against Sony and Microsoft. It’s a simple fix – apologize to your third party partners, offer them a console that is comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One to develop for and finally cut them a really sweet deal for an extended period of time (say 3 years or so) on the licensing and publishing fees to prove that you genuinely want to have their premier titles on the NX. As long as the NX console and online experience is mostly inline with the competition, and the big N gives a financial break to their valued partners – mutually assured success is highly likely. Also, Nintendo should continue to partner with third parties to secure more exclusive content like Bayonetta, Wonderful 101, and Lego City. It will be difficult to bring them all back, but with strategic alliances and the proper concessions it can be done. Make it so Nintendo!
Fix Your Online Experience: Xbox Live set the bar for online experiences way back in 2005, and 10 years later Nintendo systems are not even operating at 2005 Xbox Live levels yet. To say that the Nintendo online experience is antiquated would be to put it mildly. Both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offer highly evolved and relatively stable online functionality, from Party Chat to game invitations and extended social features – the competition accomplishes all of these things seamlessly. Nintendo needs to catch up their competition in the online arena ASAP. If you falter here, the previous 2 points made above may be moot points. Make the online simple, intuitive, robust, and with party chat and you should be fine. Also, add some sort of Trophy/Achievement system, a lot of gamers love this type of thing. Call it “Coins” after the Mario franchise and make them Bronze, Silver and Gold based on certain gaming milestones. Also, do not say that stickers in Miiverse is your Trophy/Achievement system, because it’s not the same thing and you know it.
Cross-Platform Gaming: The word on the street is that you are making an OS that will be shared across multiple form factors (your words for it, not mine). Since this seems to be the case, I’m going to need you to do something really important for me. Let’s just rip this band-aid off real quick: make your console games cross purchase with your handheld. You heard me, I want your console games on my handheld and vice versa. No more Pokémon only on handhelds and no more Splatoon only on consoles. Release all first party games (and incentivize your third party partners to as well) for both at the same time and watch those sales skyrocket! Make your games so that they scale up or down depending on the device that is playing it, similar to how PC games can be run at different graphic quality settings. Make this standard and you will revolutionize gaming in a huge way.
Nobody is more excited for the NX right now than me. There are likely folks out there equally excited, but not more so than me, I can guarantee it. I give you these suggestions for the new system(s?) because I want to watch Nintendo slam dunk it this time. If you take these ideas to heart, I promise that you will have a massive success(es?). Do it Nintendo. Be bold, compete directly with your contemporaries and play to win. I know you can do it. Do it for you fans. Do it for Iwata.
Thank you for your time – Packy, Head Llama
Update Note 1/10/2017: At the time of writing (October 20th 2015), we had no definitive proof that the the NX (now officially named the Nintendo Switch) would be a hybrid console that would be capable of playing all of the games for it on a TV or on the go once the console is taken off its dock. Essentially, my Cross-Platform gaming point is moot, as it will play games at home or on the go by default.
Also, RIP Satoru Iwata
The big reveal for the Nintendo Switch is happening on January 12th 2017 at 10 PM (Central Time Zone – USA). For more information on the Switch and to find out where you can watch the reveal event, go to Nintendo’s official website: http://www.nintendo.com/switch/