It's no secret that Nintendo's Wii U console got off to a rocky start. The system has lagged behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in sales this entire generation, even though it got to the market before both. Things have been looking up more recently, thanks to a series of top notch releases, but the Wii U has essentially become the gaming connoisseur's system, one that should be picked up in addition to a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but not as a replacement for either.
So it's no surprise that Nintendo has hinted in the recent past that it was already working on a new console. But it was not known until a press conference today just how close that new hardware might actually be to release. During its press conference to announce a partnership on mobile games with developer DeNA this morning, Nintendo revealed that it is working on a new system with the code name "NX" and that details could come as soon as 2016.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata confirmed the new hardware while discussing a new DeNA-led membership service that will merge Nintendo platforms, smart devices and PCs under one program. The program is what Nintendo is using to replace Club Nintendo, which is shutting down later this year.
There is no confirmation on whether this device will be a replacement for either the Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS, but given that the 3DS has been the far more successful of those two devices, and also just received a major update, it's unlikely that the NX is another handheld.
But it's also not clear if the NX will be another game console in the traditional sense. The chart that accompanied Nintendo's presentation does say that the NX is a "dedicated game system", but that leaves a lot open to interpretation. Last year, the company made headlines when it said it intended to focus on health in the future, even coming up with a 10-year-plan to improve its customers' quality of life. Nintendo's Wii Fit franchise has been one of its biggest success stories across the last two generations, so it wouldn't be surprising if the company were to make health a prominent feature in its next piece of hardware.
But if there's one thing that's clear from Nintendo's 125 year history, it's that the company is not afraid to take risks and travel down the unbeaten path. This is the company that saved the video game industry with the original Nintendo Entertainment System, designed a revolutionary controller for the Nintendo 64 that helped usher in the era of 3D gaming, and innovated with the motion controls on the Wii. Whatever it is that Nintendo has in store for gamers with the "NX," there's a good chance that no one will be able to see it coming.
Today's announcement of the NX along with the mobile games partnership will get Nintendo fans excited, but make no mistake: Nintendo needs these moves to work out if it wants to see another 125 years in this business. One of Nintendo's biggest faults with the Wii U was a lackluster marketing campaign that left consumers confused. Some didn't even realize it was an entirely new console. How Nintendo handles the transition to this new system will be very important for the long term health of the company.
More information on Nintendo's new hardware, codenamed "NX", will be revealed in 2016.
Source: Game Informer