Nintendo may be in desperate need of a change, but a head start into the next gen with NX could once again find Nintendo placing a distant third to Microsoft and Sony
If the past few years of this console generation have taught us anything about Nintendo, it’s that the company is in dire need of a shakeup to get them out of the quagmire they’ve found themselves in with the beleaguered Wii U, which has failed to find serious traction since its November 2012 launch. That’s not to say there’s no reason to own a Wii U — games like Xenoblade Chronicles X and Splatoon have given us plenty of enjoyment in recent months — but it’s abundantly clear that the handful of sensational releases on Nintendo’s current generation system tend to release at a glacial pace when compared to the steady stream of blockbusters found on the competition’s consoles, with much of that issue being the Wii U’s humble specs when compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This leaves third parties stuck between a rock and a hard place as they choose between releasing a shoddy port of their hottest games on Nintendo’s platform, or avoid developing games for the Wii U altogether.
Having said that, it does make sense that it seems Nintendo is poised to release their next piece of hardware sometime in 2016. Some beefier tech powering their latest shiny box and a well-timed push of the reset button could be just what the company needs to do in order to stay in the hardware game. However, pulling the plug on the struggling Wii U just four years after the console’s launch and shifting focus to a new piece platform in the middle of the current hardware generation could very well put Nintendo at a disadvantage in the long run.
With some analysts predicting that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox One’s successor will release in 2019, Nintendo’s eagerness to kick off the next console generation early could find them at a serious horsepower disadvantage once again, when the almost assuredly more powerful competition launches just a few years after the NX hits the market. Unless Nintendo manages to really wow gamers and pull them in en masse with some astoundingly ambitious software, it’s not hard to imagine many consumers will want to wait it out to see what these systems can do before deciding on what consoles to shove under their entertainment centers during the next console cycle. Being at a considerable hardware disadvantage has been a major point of contention between developers and Nintendo in the past two console generations, and a trifecta of under-powered consoles when compared to the competition would do little to shake the omnipresent stigma that Nintendo’s platforms simply can’t keep up in terms of processing power and visual fidelity.
Of course, pure muscle isn’t everything, and few studios posses the creative ability that has historically served as Nintendo’s bread and butter. However, gamers are a fickle lot, and creativity can only take you so far when you’re unequipped to let AAA developers make the most of their games through powerful hardware. It’s going to be interesting to see if the former hardware juggernaut will be able to strike the balance that’s needed to successfully launch their system well ahead of the competition while remaining a force to be reckoned with when the inevitable next iterations of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox platforms find their way on store shelves sometime in the next several years. While I’m absolutely hoping Nintendo are able to find their stride with the NX, it seems like they could be setting themselves up for an uphill in the imminent future.
Then again, this is all speculation, as only a handful of studios outside of Nintendo seem to really know what the NX is all about. For all we know the platform could well be something totally unconventional and not intended to be Nintendo’s next true console. It also remains to be seen if Nintendo plans to incorporate their penchant for unorthodox controllers or peripherals when it comes to the NX (though patent information seems to convey the system has at least some form of second-screen, handheld integration going on), and while we ourselves are pitching for a more conventional platform, Nintendo could well have something so ambitious in the works that it pulls in droves of supporters this holiday season not unlike the Wii did way back in 2006. In any case, things are certainly going to be interesting in the lead up to E3 2016, and we hope the NX has what it takes to keep Nintendo relevant for the foreseeable future. The industry needs it.
So, do what are your thoughts on the Nintendo NX releasing this year? Do you feel releasing their next piece of hardware in the middle of the current console generation will ultimately help or hurt Nintendo? Feel free to share with us your thoughts in the comments section below.