Nintendo has confirmed that its long-awaited new console, on which fans have pinned their hopes of a resurgence for the once-dominant gaming company, is months away.
The Japanese video-game maker reported on April 27 a $A296 million loss for January-March 2016, due in part to a 26 per cent sales drop compared to the same three-month period last year.
Along with the lacklustre result, Nintendo confirmed that its code-named NX console would be released in March 2017. President Tatsumi Kimishima was also quoted as telling Nikkei Asian Review that the console will be “not merely the successor” to the handheld 3DS and living room console Wii U, but would be “made with a new way of thinking”.
This comment was widely interpreted as confirmation that NX will be some kind of hybrid of the two. This could be a return to innovation for a company that dominated the market in the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s, but which struggled in recent years to keep pace with Xbox, Playstation and the rise of smartphone gaming.
Analysts agree the company needs a big seller. In its latest results, it predicted it would sell less than a million Wii U consoles in the next financial year – which a video game expert described as “dismal” and “sad”.
Pressure is mounting
Queensland University of Technology video game lecturer Mitchell McEwan, a Nintendo fan, said he interpreted the delayed launch of Nintendo NX, which some expected in 2016, as a desperate attempt by the company to get the console right after the “failure” of the Wii U.
“They can’t have another launch like Wii U or even like 3DS initially. They managed to turn 3DS around and increase sales. With the Wii U, they weren’t able to do that,” Mr McEwan told The New Daily.
“Even if it is a strong launch initially, they need to continue to have frequent first party games. They can’t rely on third parties to fill those gaps.
“There’s heaps of pressure on [Nintendo NX] because basically, the 3DS is doing fine. It’s definitely slowing down, but that’s understandable after five-odd years on the market. The Wii U obviously has been a failure for them – they haven’t been able to keep up that momentum.”
What the NX may look like
A popular theory is that the NX will be a hybrid of a handheld device and a living room console.
Nintendo experimented with this concept in the Wii U GamePad, which acted as a controller for games played through a TV screen, but which could also be used independently like a Game Boy.
Many reports claim the NX controller would be more independent of the console than the Wii U GamePad, and that the entirely handheld Nintendo 3DS would be discontinued as a result of the complete merger of the two devices.
“All of the rumours still point to them merging their handheld and home console business with NX,” Mr McEwan said.
“It still seems that. And all supposed development leaks still point out that that is what this is. It’s in line with everything, all of the internal changes they’ve made to restructure their teams. And logically it makes sense – they can’t [afford to] support two platforms.”