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Nintendo Switch


deKay
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The leadtime for launch for their last 4 systems was within 2 years of official acknowledgement of its existence, they'd have to be going backwards in progress to have to regress to a near 3 year run-up, they've had since the 3DS launch in 2011 (or 2012 if people consider the bulk of the hardware R&D team to have been busy on the Wii U after that) to work on a new system. Software availability should be the only obstacle preventing them from launching by Christmas 2016. The N64 and GameCube might be considered to have been delayed from their initial launch plans.

A long run-up wouldn't be without precident; the GBA hardware was essentially ready to go (and subject to its own rumours) in the early '90s, and we heard about the GC motion controller for Mario 128 in about 2004, long before they became the Wii and Mario Galaxy.

The only thing that has changed is that now Nintendo makes these remarks in the Japanese press if some specific bit of information - presumably that they're working on a console codenamed "NX" - is about to leak. I don't think we can read a launch timeline into it.

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The question is what the benefit would be for Nintendo to pull the plug on the Wii U now and replace it with the NX. The problem is they have a lousy installed base and therefore don't sell enough software and don't get any external support. How will this be fixed by alienating the installed base by prematurely killing the current hardware and starting all over from scratch right at the time when the competition is hitting its stride by offering discounted hardware and having a huge library with exclusives and all third party hits as well as a healthy bargain bin full of older titles? Unless it's something REALLY special, it would be suicide.

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The question is what the benefit would be for Nintendo to pull the plug on the Wii U now and replace it with the NX. The problem is they have a lousy installed base and therefore don't sell enough software and don't get any external support. How will this be fixed by alienating the installed base by prematurely killing the current hardware and starting all over from scratch right at the time when the competition is hitting its stride by offering discounted hardware and having a huge library with exclusives and all third party hits as well as a healthy bargain bin full of older titles? Unless it's something REALLY special, it would be suicide.

Well if it launches Christmas 2016 it will be four years after Wii U. I'd say as a general rule a cycle is between four and six years, so it's within that.

Even if they wait until next year to announce it, it will still launch no later than the end of that same year.

My gut feeling is that it's this home/handheld hybrid that's been rumoured, and then those rumours quashed. So essentially a Wii U capable of running independently from a base unit and fully portable, but with the option of connecting to other screens using streaming technology. The opposite of the Wii U in fact.

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Difficult to say what they've got planned really. I mean it could be anything. Maybe because it's been described as a 'platform' rather than a device, it could be something like a 'Nintendo OS'. A software platform tailored to run on all modern devices as an exclusive portal of games and apps.

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Well, the DS was released just three-and-a-half years after the GBA and that didn't seem to harm Nintendo.

The GBA wasn't discontinued for another three years after the DS launched though and Nintendo kept supporting it for a good while.

I'm not convinced the NX isn't just the alternative platform for emerging markets. Like, positioned for countries like China.

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Nintendo kind of lost that this generation didn't they? A shift to basing their consoles on commodity mobile hardware would help them get back to selling inexpensive consoles at a big profit.

Makes me wonder if the whole mobile business is a chance for their teams to familiarise themselves with the hardware before the switch.

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A long run-up wouldn't be without precident; the GBA hardware was essentially ready to go (and subject to its own rumours) in the early '90s, and we heard about the GC motion controller for Mario 128 in about 2004, long before they became the Wii and Mario Galaxy.

The only thing that has changed is that now Nintendo makes these remarks in the Japanese press if some specific bit of information - presumably that they're working on a console codenamed "NX" - is about to leak. I don't think we can read a launch timeline into it.

The GameCube had its own motion controller prototype before it even launched, though the story behind the Wiimote would indicate the actual key piece of technology didn't come to Nintendo until after the GameCube was nearly finished, as they bought that off an American after both Sony and Microsoft rejected his tech.

They even completed a replacement for the GBA not long after the DS came out, but it was killed due to the unexpected success of the DS, so I'm sure hardware development isn't the problem. As I said, the only major obstacle to launching in 2016 is software support in my view.

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Difficult to say what they've got planned really. I mean it could be anything. Maybe because it's been described as a 'platform' rather than a device, it could be something like a 'Nintendo OS'. A software platform tailored to run on all modern devices as an exclusive portal of games and apps.

The known facts would tell you it is highly likely to be new hardware, console manufacturers are also called platform holders, the Wii U is a platform, so is the 3DS. The NX should be new hardware, they just won't say what it is exactly or what it is designed to replace yet. Both of their existing platforms will need replacing by the time it comes out, as neither is doing aswell as past systems (so will highly likely die naturally much quicker, unless they find the modern equivalent of Pokémon to give the 3DS a boost like the Gameboy got) and Nintendo have over 5000+ mouths to directly feed or P45, not to mention all the subcontractors basically reliant on them for their existence.

If it isn't, they've basically lost it and given up, which all the other recent press interviews would not suggest.

As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename NX

You also just announced “NX,” something you described as a platform that’s “a brand new concept.” Can you confirm whether this is indeed hardware, and what it’s intended to follow system-wise?

The reason why I announced “NX,” which by the way, is not directly related to our alliance with DeNA, was because I wanted to avoid any misunderstandings such as, “Nintendo might have lost its passion for the dedicated game system business,” and because I wanted many people to understand that Nintendo will continue its dedicated game system business with even stronger passion and motivation. I am sorry, but as I said during the press conference yesterday, we cannot make any further announcements about “NX” until next year.

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My guess is that Nintendo are working on a hub console that connects to a TV but can also network to people's mobile devices.

In essence it would be a fairly traditional console, but the packed in controller would be a shell into which you place your phone (or Nintendo branded iPod Touch-esque device) like a modern take on the Dreamcast's VMU. Multiplayer games wouldn't necessarily require the use of said shell, however, so you could have 8 or so people around that all whip out their mobile devices, start up the Nintendo/DeNA app and are able to use those devices' touchscreens and accelerometers for games with simpler interactions, similar to the relationship between the Wii Remote and WiiU.

Making use of devices that people are already carrying has other benefits, too. You could have StreetPass functions or fitness monitors with you at all times, for example, all of which report back to the base station when you're on your home's WiFI, no doubt obnoxiously updating everyone on the Miiverse in the process. Leveraging technology that people already own is a great way to become part of a routine, not just something people bring out for parties.

Nintendo wants to make games that you can play together in the same room, whether that's with family or friends. Smartphones and tablets are only going to become cheaper and more pervasive, so instead of fighting that why not turn it into an advantage? As for the machine itself, a lot of WiiU games already look great for Nintendo's visual ambitions and they could make a profit on a modestly priced console that's significantly more capable in a couple of years. Sure it would probably just be a Nintendo machine for Nintendo games but I think that's all people really want anyway, especially if they're going to expand what that means with their forays into different markets, such as their QoL venture.

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In essence it would be a fairly traditional console, but the packed in controller would be a shell into which you place your phone (or Nintendo branded iPod Touch-esque device) like a modern take on the Dreamcast's VMU.

MOGA Pro, £40. Wikipad, £70. Anything much more than that is a compatibility and security minefield. Others' OSes, too.

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I also don't think it's as easy as Nintendo dropping some classic Nintendo games and getting "casuals" onboard again - there's competition now. Getting people to play games on a device under the TV rather than mobile or tablet they already use and all their friends play and they always have in reach is going to be a bit of an ask.

The Wii and Kinect made under TV gaming something you'd use for a social event - people dancing or playing sports or minigames has a performance aspect that you don't get with Zelda. So they'd either need to go back to that or come up with some other use case that mobile can't do as easily.

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Plausible? How the hell would the controller cradle work? There's not like one size or layout of phone ports, and if you want to connect to control iPhones you need to have it registered with Apple and include their $100 chip.

I wasn't really thinking of connecting the controller to the mobile directly, rather the Nintendo app would connect to the base unit and then you could link a shell to a device via colour matching or other obvious mechanism. As for the various device sizes, I didn't necessarily mean that it sits within a fixed shell: it could attach to arm, or you could have various caddies; it really depends on the design of the controller.

Unlike the WiiU I wasn't really pushing video streaming, although naturally that would be possible as demonstrated by RemotePlay. Instead I was thinking of the app acting more like an HTML5 second screen when it comes to controller games, whereas the mobile device could be used on its own for more communal games: selecting or drawing for quiz games, WarioWare interactions, steering in MK, etc.

The way I see it Nintendo's biggest strength is its brand and cast of characters. With their own app they can carve out a walled garden on hardware people were going to buy anyway, and they have something a lot of mobile game developers lack: consistency. So if the question is why people would play Nintendo games on their phone, it's because those games should be good and can all be interconnected: the app is StreetPassing in the background earning you coins to spend in various games, all of which can report back to the console to unlock your Mii a new hat or whatever, and check out what this Amiibo unlocks, etc.

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Why is it in gaming that selling millions of products is lousy?

If I was running a business that sold millions of products I'd be much more chipper.

You wouldn't if the dev costs meant you had to sell tens of millions to break even.

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Even first-party retail Nintendo titles now have to clear multiple Millions to be considered successful, hence why they don't do many updates to their niche, but much pined for old series anymore. Even on the Wii, the bar was 1 Million units to be considered profitable by Nintendo themselves (I assume at full sell-in price too, lowering the price would just raise your required unit sales volume to compensate).

I know most people claim that the economics of the business are of no interest to them/don't matter, but at least educate yourself a bit about the subject before claiming selling X number of copies is great or a game should only cost X to develop is actually a practical reality or not. It's like the unrealistically low funding requirement mind games that Kickstarter devs have to resort to as the general public would not fund them if they gave a realistic number from the start. It doesn't help the service is 100% across the line or failure.

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