Just what is Nintendo up to…
The Nintendo NX is a ridiculously powerful console-handheld hybrid that can play the entire back catalog of Nintendo games and even works with the PlayStation 4.
At least that’s the latest batch of rumors about the mystery machine to make their way online this week thanks to to a Japanese gaming analyst and a leaked survey from Nintendo client GFK. Nintendo is still a few months away from releasing any official details about the NX, but if the latest rumors are any indication, it looks like the NX will have these four features.
4. The NX Works with the PS4
By far the most tantalizing rumor from gaming analyst David Gibson of Macquarie Research Japan is that the NX will somehow interact with the PlayStation 4, smartphones, and PC. If this is some sort of add-on device or a streaming service that lets you play Nintendo games through another console, it could be a game changer. For years one of the biggest criticisms of Nintendo has been that it stubbornly refuses to go third-party no matter how poorly some of its console sell. If the NX handheld lets you play Nintendo games easily through another console, it will make everyone happy. Nintendo can keep its independence, and gamers don’t have to feel like they’re tied to an expensive Nintendo console with poor third-party support and other Nintendo idiosyncracies like friend codes. That Gibson doesn’t mention the Xbox One likely means this would involve some sort of Bluetooth connection, as the Xbox One lacks the Bluetooth compatibility of the PS4,PCs, and smartphones.
Of course, “interacting” with a console can mean a lot of things. Technically, the Xbox One interacts with the PS4 if you want to plug the PS4 into the Xbox One’s HDMI input. That doesn’t mean the Xbox One actually plays PS4 games though. The NX interacting with the PS4 is either going to be something to get very excited about, or an odd little feature that virtually no one uses.
3. The NX Will Debut a Game Streaming Service
According to the GFK survey, the NX will ship with a sensor bar. That likely means that the NX will be backwards compatible with the Wii U, and possibly the original Wii as well. Beyond that, there’s a mention a subscription service, similar to Xbox Live, that will provide access to online multiplayer and more than 150 other games that will constantly change and be updated. Even if Nintendo is vigorously courting third-parties to develop the NX, having that many games at launch is a pipe dream, unless Nintendo is tapping into its back catalog.
Nintendo has never been known for online gaming, and it will be hard to convince gamers to pay a few bucks a month to take the NX online, unless Nintendo sweetens the deal with access to dozens of NES, SNES, N64, and Gamecube games. That would help the NX stand out from the Xbox One and PS4, and maybe it would even motivate Sony to lower the price of its interesting but ridiculously overpriced PlayStation Now service.
2. The Visuals Will be Great… But Also Underwhelming
The GFK survey also states that the NX will support 4K/60 fps video streaming right out of the box. That feature is technically possible with the PS4 and Xbox One right now, but no one has utilized it yet. If Nintendo makes it a selling point for the new console, that would make it a must-buy for those with shiny new curved televisions.
Oddly enough, the same survey also says that gameplay will only run at 900p. That’s not a terrible resolution. A lot of multiplatform games run at 900p on Xbox One and 1080p on PS4, but it seems like a poor decision on Nintendo’s part to put out a weaker console than what’s already been on the market for three years. But then again, that’s exactly what they did with the Wii, which thoroughly trounced the Xbox 360 and PS3 in sales, so maybe they know what they’re doing.
1. The NX Handheld is Coming Before the Console
The big Nintendo NX rumor of the past few months is that it’s some sort of console-handheld hybrid. Imagine a Wii U that can also play 3DS games. And vice versa. And you can switch between the console and handheld seamlessly. Interestingly, the GFK survey only mentions that the NX will come withone controller. Is that because the handheld and console are actually going to be sold separately?
That’s Gibson’s theory. He says that the NX handheld will release this year, but we won’t actually see the console until 2017. Nintendo’s handhelds have typically been more popular than its consoles, so it makes sense to get people hooked with a new a handheld and then see if that gets them to pick up the console a few months later. This is basically the strategy Nintendo used with the newest Smash Bros. First, it was released on the 3DS, and the Wii U version followed a few months later. Both versions of Smash Bros. were huge successes, so this strategy could very well pay off for the NX as well.
There are still a ton of unknowns about the NX. What does it look like? How much will it cost? What will be the launch games? But if only half the Nintendo NX rumors making the rounds turn out to be true, it sounds like Nintendo has learned a lot from the struggles of the Wii U in creating its successor, and it will be well worth picking up whatever Nintendo releases this year.