Originally published on Trevor Trove on July 26, 2016
Eurogamer published the latest rumors on Nintendo’s next console today, citing multiple sources, that the system will be a portable console and feature detachable controllers. This falls very much in line with what I’ve been suggesting, having talked about it when I was a guest on PlayStation Enthusiast (during our tangent into NX territory) and when I wrote extensively on Nintendo’s console philosophy back when somebody 3D-printed a fake controller in March.
Going back to the Game Boy, Nintendo has seemingly had a far more stable track record in their handheld market, compared to the mostly downward trend of their console sales (Wii spike notwithstanding). And as I’ve repeated time and time again, Nintendo’s strategy is almost always centered around innovation and game design, rather than power and graphics. So the notion of a cartridge-based handheld system that you can take with you on the go or plug into your television through a docking station fall in that first camp. I don’t know the technical specifications well enough to identify if this system would theoretically be more powerful than the PlayStation Vita (and I probably wouldn’t have the technical know-how to say either way if I did have the specs), but it is certainly guaranteed to be less powerful than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
It seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll see third-party developers putting a ton of work into scaling down their titles for ports, as was the case on the Wii U. Of course, if this sells like hotcakes, I’m sure EA, Activision, etc. would find a way to try and make a buck off it. But I think more like, this will be another system that’s basically dedicated to Nintendo first-party content. And on the bright side, having a single system will hopefully lead to a steadier flow of new titles as studios won’t be dividing between developing for the console and the handheld separately. The droughts of the Wii U game releases would have been a lot more manageable if the 3DS games were compatible with the system.
Will this bring back “classic” Nintendo fans who have moved on to the PlayStation and Xbox families? Unlikely. But it could probably do a better job of reaching out to the consumers who appreciated the casual experience of the Wii and outsell the Wii U. Though that’s an admittedly low bar to set. A more interesting question for me will be how it fares compared to the 3DS family of handhelds, which is nearing 60 million in lifetime sales
According to the Eurogamer article, we could finally get some formal announcements this September, potentially presented around Tokyo Game Show.