By Kirk Douglas
Hot on the heels of several interesting patent filings from Nintendo, an investor meeting on April 28th revealed much sought after details on the company’s plans for its next big act in gaming.
Nintendo, a company as beloved as it is divisive, finally spoke up about future plans in a presentation to investors, led by company president Tatsumi Kimishima. Kimishima revealed sparse details on what lies ahead in a number of key business areas for the company including insight on their mobile strategy, an upcoming Zelda title and the next console “platform,” as they are calling it, code named the “NX.”
It has been widely known among gaming enthusiasts that Nintendo has planned a new console for some time. First public mention of the system was back on March 17, 2015 by the company’s then President, Satoru Iwata who has since passed from tumor-related complications. During a joint announcement about Nintendo’s partnership with DeNA to create mobile games, Iwata shared vague details on the new product platform code named “NX.”
In his (Satoru Iwata’s) words,
“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,’ …It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.”
At the time, the statement was a bold admission that Nintendo was indeed preparing their next home entertainment offering and perhaps ceding to a nuanced but very real public fear that their latest console, the Wii U had far underperformed among competing platforms. Iwata offered no detail on the upcoming hardware except to say that their joint venture with publisher DeNA would “encompass the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs.”
In typical fashion the Internet ran wild with speculation that Nintendo was hard at work on a structurally sound cloud-based backbone for their current products and whatever is next to come. Given the vague timeline laid out in Iwata’s comments it was also believed that E3 2016 would likely provide an appropriate venue to unveil such a new product.
Just days ago, new President Tatsumi Kimishima confirmed that the NX is indeed well into development and is scheduled for launch in March of 2017. Perhaps delayed in a move which may have provided some course-correction for a product launch that wasn’t able to be executed as aggressively as originally planned. Either way, the supposed console was again addressed by Kimishima as a “platform,” a curious language choice that has led many to believe the system will be a multi-piece unit. Perhaps with components that can be used stand-alone for portable gaming while offering additional power and functionality while wirelessly tethered to a home hub of sorts.
Little solid evidence of any new hardware has surfaced outside of patent filings one can find online, but there is clearly an initiative to bring the company’s online presence to the forefront and expand the Nintendo brand and popular IP’s to the masses.
In the company’s first long-awaited mobile play, Nintendo brought a new handheld gaming experience to users on March 17th this year with Miitomo – a mobile title across iOS and Android in partnership with DeNA that lets users connect with friends for a social gaming experience. In the same Fiscal results presentation in which Kimishima confirmed the NX, he also stated their Miitomo title was providing the company with vital feedback from users across mobile devices.
“Our goals are to act on the feedback we received during this period quickly and increase the amount of consumers who are playing daily.”
Considering the short time that the app has been available, it has already reached more than 10 Million unique users since its release, a promising start for the company who’s mobile presence was entirely absent prior to its release.
He continued with mention of long time Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto,
“ To explain the level of engagement of Mr. Miyamoto, he is having specific talks with developers of games for smart devices on what would be desirable overall. In that sense, what you see from the outside may be markedly different from what we see on the inside;” Subtly quelling any fears around the company’s recent entry into mobile games.
In further QA during the investor meeting he went on to reveal that Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem are set to be the next Nintendo properties slated for mobile devices.
“We chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem as titles to follow Miitomo from the viewpoint of increasing the diverse types of consumers interested in Nintendo, and widening opportunities for game play. The Animal Crossing series has been played by a wide range of consumers including children and women. I think there is a good chance that those consumers would enjoy this. As for Fire Emblem, it is not so much the width of the audience as the existence of die-hard fans who have stuck to the series for a long time. We selected two titles of different categories and IP to reach as many consumers as possible. We are not limiting the IP for the titles that will follow these two. We will continue to prepare titles using IP that many consumers are familiar with.”
When pressed on further detail about the upcoming Nintendo “NX,” and related software, Kimishima responded:
“One of the reasons for choosing the launch timing that we did is so that the software lineup will be ready in time for the hardware launch. Not only at launch, but we also need to be able to continuously release titles after launch. We are planning for this to be a platform that consumers can enjoy for a long time.”
Refreshing news indeed, as many long-time Nintendo fans have yearned for hardware offerings that will better hold up against the likes of Sony and Microsoft. Still Nintendo seems to hold firm (as they often do) on marching to the beat of their own drum. To this very point, the company also announced that this year’s E3 Presentation will focus entirely on the next Zelda installment, a game that was originally built for the Wii U but has since been revealed to be in development for both that system and the upcoming NX.
These statements are surprisingly candid for Nintendo considering how tight-lipped the company has historically been. Acknowledging that, we must not forget the cross platform release of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a title that similarly bridged a gap between the dwindling GameCube user base and the highly successful Wii.
The Internet hasn’t always been kind to Nintendo and these announcements have been received no different. For all of the excitement to be had around the prospects of a new console in the works and popular titles like Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem coming to mobile, they have provoked some Wii U owners and enthusiasts to push back out of angst and confusion.
As a prior owner of Wii U, a system I thoroughly enjoyed but found lackluster outside of a few stellar titles, it is easy to see why some might be hesitant to trust Nintendo in yet another home console endeavor. But we really must not get ahead of ourselves. The details as of now are slim to say the least and most anything in hardware related detail seems speculative at best.
The fact of the matter is that although the 3DS has maintained a surprising level of success, the Wii U certainly hasn’t and this could very well be Nintendo’s chance to turn the tide.
See the Fincancial Results outline here:
See the Full Financial Results briefing here:
See the Financial Results QA here: