We’re hearing a lot of Nintendo NX rumors lately. A lot of rumors. I mean, a LOT OF RUMORS. Much of it’s merely speculation such as “It will be as powerful as a PS4.” No, really? They’re going to make it as powerful as a 2+ year old console? No kidding?
Personally, I think aside from the play-it-anywhere model that Nintendo is going for, they have one more surprise in store for us. If there wasn’t, they’d already have announced it. No, there’s one more little detail that will make NX all the buzz, and the shorter the window between announcing it and releasing it, the better.
I can’t wait to find out what it is.
Still, Nintendo has had plenty of innovations for us in the past and it didn’t always result in a successful console. Heck, except for the Wii, no Nintendo home console has been successful since the SNES. We’ve seen analog N64 controllers, four-port Gamecubes with fast-loading discs, live-streaming second-screen experiences on the Wii U, and that doesn’t even count their portable offerings which, frankly, have never failed. (Assuming you don’t consider the Virtual Boy a portable device.)
Innovation won’t be enough this time. The NX has to do more. No, it doesn’t have to be an XBox or PlayStation — we already have those. It does, however, need to erase the gap in a few areas to complete.
Here are the 5 things we have to see from the NX if Nintendo wants to dominate the market.
1. A $350 – $400 Price Point at Launch
Wait, what? Every game source you read is telling you that they need to come in at the normal $250 range Nintendo likes to be at. Always cheaper than everyone else. The “mass market” if you will, and yes, that did work for the Wii. However, this ain’t no Wii. Nintendo needs to come in much higher.
It’s 2016, and the gaming community has HDTV’s, surround sound systems, and an appetite for great gaming experiences that impress their friends. Nintendo hardware has to be able to provide for that. A $250 console could compete with a PS4 right now, sure, but Nintendo had problems at the end of the Wii lifecycle when the graphical difference between them and their competitors was so large that everyone abandoned it. The NX has to be built to outperform the PS4 and give Nintendo 3-4 years of being the top hardware on the market.
In short, Nintendo has to take its 15-year association with being “graphically inferior” and shatter it into a billion pieces. Now’s the perfect time.
2. Give the Console a Retro Look Owners Can Be Proud Of
When the Wii hit the market, clean white was “hot.” Designed to the tune of Apple’s commercials, the system adopted a look that was big at the time but aged quickly. Today, the white Wii is considered ugly and the black model wasn’t all that exciting either.
Then the Wii U came along and…I can’t even describe how shameful its appearance is. The design, actually, was part of the Wii U’s problem. It was so non-descript and bland they didn’t even show the console off during its unveiling. (They only featured the GamePad.) It was just a black box that somewhat resembled a Wii but without the cool blue light. You can even argue it’s the most uninspired console design…ever. You may think aesthetics don’t matter but you’d be wrong. The look of a console can sell itself…and has.
How on earth does Nintendo not leverage its history to target the nostalgia of moms and dads everywhere who are buying systems for their families? We’ve seen a SupaBoy adopt an SNES design that gamers ogled over…and that was a piece of crap. Nintendo constantly pushes software that harkens back to the days of the NES. They’ve pushed the Mother series lately which is great! We see Legend of Zelda-themed portable systems that are always huge sellers.
And then they made the Wii U a bland black box that’s only had one other color variation, white, and that was gone within the first year! (It also sold poorly because it only had 16GB of storage. Ugg.)
For the NX, Nintendo needs to build a console designed to remind us of the glory days of gaming. Incorporate that NES gray. How about the Super Famicom colors on the buttons much like the 3DS they released a year ago. Make it a showpiece, something everybody wants on display in their living room. Give us one in Zelda gold, Mario red, and Pokemon yellow. (Heck, you know a lot of people will buy all three!)
3. Make It Dead Easy to Port Games To
Ever wonder why the PS4 and XBox One all have so many of the same games? Simple. They’re all designed to play the same way. Think about it: AAA titles cost a LOT of money to produce. Developers need to maximize their profits for the work. This is exactly why games have so many sequels these days. A sequel can be created on the same engine as its predecessor, with little to no work being put into the core programming.
So let’s look at Ubisoft. They build Assasin’s Creed and it costs them tens of millions of dollars to make. How do they maximize their profits? First, and most obviously, they’ll throw together annual sequels. These games all play the same, with little additions as they go to spice things up. (Madden, Call of Duty, and oh so many more…)
Ports. Lots of ports! The more systems you port your game to the bigger your potential market is. So, if they create a game for the PS4, it makes sense to port it to the XBox One, right? OF COURSE. Logically then, they should then bring it to the Wii U, right?
What makes Nintendo such a victim of missing 3rd-party games is that they innovate a little too much. Ubisoft looks at the Wii U and sees the second screen on the GamePad for what it reall is: expensive new functionality. They also see that the graphics capabilities aren’t as good. That means optimizations and lower-resolution textures. All of this costs money. Couple that with the smaller user base of the system and Ubisoft can’t make money porting to the Wii U. So they don’t. This is often why in years past we’ve seen 3rd-party developers embrace Nintendo’s portable systems much more. The 3DS has more users than the PS4 and XBox One combined. Now that is a profit opportunity!
Business practices have never scared away developers. Don’t believe what others say. Were Nintendo’s licensing standards stringent in the NES days? Yes. Did that stop developers from making games for it? No.
The NX should offer similar or greater power than the PS4 and make it dead simple to port games to. Period. Maybe then we’ll have a damn baseball game again!
4. Abandon the Second Screen and End Backward Compatibility
If Nintendo is going to be more friendly for porting, the second-screen concept has to go. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I’m a huge Wii U fan, and while the console wasn’t a sales success it’s still one of the best systems in my lifetime. But, oh, that second screen. It’s what locks the Wii U into a price point not much less than it cost on day #1.
Nintendo should abandon the second-screen concept so that porting games to the console doesn’t incur as huge a cost. Will it leave the NX looking more generic? Maybe, but if Nintendo can focus its innovation elsewhere, we can get the best of both worlds.
Next, I firmly believe Nintendo needs a fresh start and that means it should scrap any ideas of backwards compatibility with the Wii or Wii U. The Wii is obvious. Those games don’t hold up graphically anymore. Over 100 millions Wii’s were sold at market. Anyone who wants to play Wii games likely already has a Wii. It makes no sense to carry over the Wiimote another generation, nor should they promote games that use motion controls.
We’ve had the same controller for 10 years. Let’s iterate and give players something new.
Perhaps more controversially, I’m advocating that the NX not to be backwards compatible with the Wii U. This would end a decade-long tradition of Nintendo systems all supporting the previous generations’ games (if not even further back with their portables). Now…now is the time to start all over. The Wii U sales were so poor, there’s not a lot of people who’d be mad. Plus, to offer backward compatibility for a Wii U game would require a GamePad. Sure, Nintendo could simply allow a Wii U pad to work with the new system (while not including one with the NX), but Nintendo’s resources are better allocated to make a new gaming experience and not supporting an old game system that failed.
Give us a new console, a Blu-Ray disc format, new controllers and let’s start again. Don’t anchor us or even remind us of a failed product.
5. Make Every Past Nintendo Game Available At Launch
My final point cannot be accentuated enough. Satoru Iwata made a failed promise when he announced the Wii. Nobody remembers it today, but it happened and let’s watch it. It occurs at 1:00 if you want to skip ahead.
It’s this critical moment, at 1:00 in the announcement, you hear what the fanbase wants. Every. Game. (And the Revolution name but that ship has sailed.) Iwata promised a system that was every Nintendo system…but he didn’t deliver. N64 was under-represented in the Wii Shop and we never got close to everything from the NES and SNES days…and we had to wait yeaaaaaaars for it to all happen.
Make it happen now.
We’ve heard a lot of rumors about the NX, but the one common thread is that it will play home console games the same way as portable. No more will games be released separately as they were for Wii U and 3DS. With NX, you’ll buy Smash Bros. once, and you’ll be able to play it anywhere and everywhere.
Make every NES, SNES, N64, and even Gamecube classic available at launch. Every single one licensing allows. Better yet, if you’ve bought one of those games in the past, you’ll get it free on the NX. And don’t give us 32GB of space to squeeze it into. Nintendo completely limited itself by restricting storage space. Yes, you can buy expanded storage for your Wii U, but it’s got to come included in the console this time. Give players tons of space they’re aching to fill.
Let me summarize. There’s a generation of gamers who played Nintendo as kids. They have a hole in their heart that yearns for those days again. They have children they want to share the classics with, but they can’t get today’s mainstream games on a Nintendo so they settle on other systems. Give them their childhood again…but at the same time allow them to play the same games available on all the other systems. By letting the younger generation get exposed to Microsoft and Sony now, this becomes their nostalgia, and Nintendo is lost in the future.
Once you come into parity with the mainstream games of today, the choice between which console offers the best exclusives is so laughably obvious that you won’t be able to make enough NX’s to keep up with demand.