When it comes down to it, the Nintendo Wii U was something of a failure. Poor sales, a general confusion as to what the console actually does, and a frustrating lack of key Nintendo franchises have all meant this is one sorry chapter the company is likely to want to forget.
Recent news has suggested Nintendo will cease production of Wii U consoles at the end of this year, although this rumor was later denied by the company themselves. Still, regardless of the Wii U’s fate, it seems the follow-up, the Nintendo NX, could be released a lot sooner than we think.
Despite the company’s best efforts to keep information on the new console under wraps, there are still enough tidbits out there to make some decent assumptions on what we can expect from it. Whether Nintendo has learned from the mistakes it made with the Wii U, however, remains to be seen.
Here’s our rundown of everything we know, everything we think we know, and everything we want to know about the next (or should that be NXt?) step for Nintendo…
We know it will have better third party support
Nintendo needs third party support for the NX to succeed. Publishers such as Ubisoft and EA stepping away from the Wii U post-launch was a big blow to its sales, and Nintendo has acknowledged this.
While Nintendo has many strong first party titles, without other developers and publishers behind them the NX runs the risk of being just another console for the Nintendo die-hard audience — a market not nearly as large as Nintendo would like to believe.
It is certain, then, that Nintendo will want to work alongside a larger number of external companies to help give the NX a strong lineup of titles — both exclusives and those perennials franchises that will keep it on a level with Playstation and Xbox. One rumour currently suggests that Ubisoft are working with Nintendo on Beyond Good and Evil 2, and we know that companies like Monolith and EA are currently working with advance dev kits for the platform. Other rumors link the likes of Capcom, Square Enix, SEGA, Activision and Warner Bros. to the console.
Simply put, you can expect annual releases of mass-market titles such as Call of Duty and FIFA, alongside many more. Of course, this also depends on the continued success of the Nintendo NX following its launch. Many publishers originally backed the Wii U, but bailed after poor sales caused by Nintendo’s failure to shift physical consoles.
We know Nintendo are focusing on integration between platforms
By now there’s been enough talk around this to know that the Nintendo NX will feature integration between the home console, its controller, and various other devices (such as tablet and mobile) as standard.
While this format was already a key part of the Wii U, with the NX it is expected to kick things up another level entirely. Imagine a glorified version of what Sony is currently doing with the PlayStation 4 and the Vita… and if the 4K streaming rumour is true, then we could see some truly incredible games in handheld format.
We know there will be a new loyalty scheme
After scrapping its previous loyalty scheme, Club Nintendo, the company has now announced its official replacement: My Nintendo.The system will reward players with points for purchasing software and playing games, which can then be used to purchase merchandise, downloadable content or even other games.
While we don’t yet know whether the Nintendo NX will feature a similar trophy/achievement system to those used by Microsoft and Sony, given the success of both those initiatives it would seem foolish not to. After all, in its current state, Nintendo seems far less likely to push the “defiantly different” angle that they have in the past.
Gamers today expect rewards, so you can be pretty sure Nintendo will give them them.
We think it could support 4k video streaming and 900p gameplay
A recent survey conducted by a key market research partner of Nintendo has stated that the NX will support both Ultra HD 4k video streaming and 900p/60fps gameplay, which would be a first for any console on the market.
Nintendo’s late president, Satoru Iwata, had said that the NX will move away from the Wii and Wii U , which would presumably see the company ditch its policy that “graphics come second to gameplay”, and finally boast some tech specs that can compete in the same league as its rivals.
Since the Wii U doesn’t support a lot of the engines that current games are running on, it’s no surprise that it lagged behind in the range of titles available to it. While Nintendo has long championed the idea that you don’t need top-of-the-range graphics to make a great game, their recent experience is very likely to cause them to re-evaluate their stance on that, if only to appeal to a broader section of the market.
We think it will release this year
As already mentioned, with Nintendo having recorded such poor sales of the Wii U, it’s not going to want to hang around long before it starts plugging the gap in its finances with a replacement.
According to a series of anonymous revelations from developers linked to the NX, as well as a series of industry analysis reports measuring customer consumption habits, Nintendo is preparing to release its next console later this year. Fall is by far the most likely arrival period, timed to coincide with the end of summer, the return to school, and as a precursor to Christmas.
While no official statement has been given so far, the number of Nintendo game titles in late development at the moment would certainly make this a sensible estimate. Which brings us on to our next point…
We think it could be the strongest Nintendo launch lineup to date
With no more downloadable content confirmed for Super Smash Bros 4, a new Super Smash Bros title could be on the launch cards for the NX. Dragon Quest was also confirmed at E3, and with the new Zelda title increasingly likely to be ready in time for its release, this could be one of the strongest launch line-ups for a Nintendo console to date — and all this without any word from third party developers.
While former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had announced that his company would not simply port old software titles to the new console as they are, Nintendo is sitting on a lot of gold from the glorious days of the NES, SNES and N64. Some of these titles have already been released as downloadable titles for the Wii U, but we can no-doubt expect to see plenty more with the release of the NX.
Given Iwata’s statement about avoiding direct software ports, we might even finally see a full remake of Ocarina of Time? That would certainly get people talking.
We want to know if Nintendo are going to revive old game series
Nintendo has some amazing intellectual property behind them. Franchises like Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, F-Zero, Metroid, Starfox and Pokémon are the stuff of video-gaming legend, yet many of them have lain agonisingly dormant for far too long.
Nintendo haven’t touched the F-Zero franchise in over 12 years, and apart from the announcement of Federation Hunters, the Metroid brand has lain equally dormant. Pitted against the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One, the NX could benefit from some decent first person shooters, so a new Metroid title seems like a no-brainer.
The latest Zelda title has also been repeatedly delayed, much to the frustration of Wii U owners. At this point it really doesn’t make sense for Nintendo to release one of their biggest names at the end of a console’s life cycle, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it got pushed back even further at this point. Out of all of the rumours floating around, the one suggesting the next Zelda title will appear across both the Wii U and the NX seems most likely right now.
We want to know what’s next for Pokémon
Pokémon recently met Tekken in the form of Pokkén Tournament, which was met with favourable reviews, but the question is where things go from here.
In all honesty, the handheld Pokémon adventures are beginning to run out of steam these days, so it would seem like Nintendo are going to have to think big if they want to keep this gargantuan franchise alive. With the NX, the opportunity is there for Pokémon to take a leap into the next generation of console gaming. There’s a ton of different directions it could go — we just hope they have they have the guts to make it happen.
We could see the NX equivalent of Pokémon Stadium, or we could get something entirely different again. What we’re hoping for is a fully 3D open-world game set in the Pokémon universe, with lots of scope for multiplayer gaming. Imagine seeing your Pokémon roaming wild in a huge, explorable world before you try and catch them? It would take some doing, but given what we know about the NX and its hardware capabilities so far, Nintendo certainly seem to be taking development matters very seriously indeed.
Nintendo will release more information about the console at E3 this year. Be sure to check Highsnobiety for updates.
NB: This article was amended on March 31 to reflect the fact Satoru Iwata is Nintendo’s late president, after passing away in 2015.
- Words: Mat Ombler