The NX will need to focus on substance over hardware innovation to stay relevant
All signs seem to point to Nintendo’s next piece of hardware, currently known as the Nintendo NX, releasing later this year. While there are plenty of people who would agree that the time is right for Nintendo to shift their focus from the foundering Wii U, which has struggled to keep pace with the competition from the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One despite its year-long head start this console generation, recent language from Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima has me worried that the longtime console manufacturer could be doomed to repeat the same mistakes as its recent predecessors.
During a recent interview with Senkei West, Kimishima promised the NX would offer “a unique experience, one that is different from Wii U and 3DS”. While innovation is great and all, the type of talk makes it hard not to fear the company’s new head is hinting at yet another unconventional platform, much like the Wii U and the Wii, which relied on unique and often poorly utilized control mechanisms and gimmicks that often felt shoehorned into their platform’s respective titles. That’s not to say I’d prefer to see Nintendo’s rumored console/handheld hybrid follow in lock-step with the competition, but after two generations of less than stellar performance, largely due to Nintendo’s proprietary peripherals and under-powered hardware scaring away third party studios, we can’t help but feel Nintendo desperately needs to release a more traditional platform this go round if they wish to remain in the hardware business.
Simply put, Nintendo needs to focus on games rather than gimmicks to rekindle the faith of their consumers and third parties. Nintendo’s veritable gold mine of properties has begun to lose its luster in recent years, with the stable of perennial releases we’ve been seeing regurgitated ever since the days of the Nintendo 64. For a studio known as one of the most imaginative in the industry, this is simply unacceptable. Nintendo’s stellar run-and-gun competitive shooter Splatoon proves the company still has what it takes to creative an inventive and endlessly engaging new experience, and we’d love to see the developer capitalize on this by creating further new properties to appeal to new fans and longtime supporters alike, who’ve grown weary of the company’s stagnant stable of offerings. Giving credit where credit is due, Nintendo does, by and large, release many more first-party titles than either Sony or Microsoft, but the overwhelming lack of third party support only serves to highlight just how badly the NX’s library is in need of a shakeup to spice things up.
While ditching awkward controllers and focusing on building a meaningful library of games is absolutely important to the success of the NX, rolling out a system with enough horsepower to compete with the current generation’s best, while remaining a capable platform when the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation platforms roll out is key. After all, the NX is poised to release three years into the life of the PS4 and Xbox One, meaning that if Nintendo hopes for the platform to be successful, the NX will likely be stuck fighting for shelf space over the course of two console generations. Few things scare publishers and consumers alike more than the prospect of games needing to be designed with a piece of underpowered hardware limiting the potential of a multiplatform title, meaning Nintendo may have to be willing to ship the NX at a loss to ensure it packs the kind of guts to make it a multi-generational contender with viable support from big name studios who have passed over previous Nintendo platforms for fears of delivering an inferior product.
If Nintendo can manage to focus on doing what they do best by delivering fun and innovative new games that capture the hearts and imaginations of gamers everywhere, while keeping the NX’s design philosophy grounded in the needs of gamers and third party studios alike, then they stand a real chance of climbing back to the top of the hardware heap. However, an over-reliance on undercooked console gimmicks and tired franchises will surely make it next to impossible for Nintendo to ever don the console crown again. As a gamer who has thoroughly enjoyed Nintendo’s offerings since the inception of the NES, I hope beyond hope that Nintendo’s new leadership has the savvy to make the NX the platform Nintendo fans deserve, and not just another unique oddity destined to collect dust on my entertainment center. In any case, we’ll likely get a better idea of the direction Nintendo is taking when E3 rolls around in just a few short months.
So, what do you hope to see from the Nintendo NX? Do you think Nintendo can get away with creating another wildly unconventional piece of hardware this generation? Moreover, would you prefer Nintendo focus on their existing lineup of franchises, or pour the efforts into creating new IP for the next generation? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below and let us know.