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Speculating about the Nintendo NX for fun and profit

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It's pretty late in the game for me to be starting this topic, but there's still time for some 11th hour theory crafting! Let's see who can come the closest to guessing the specifics of the console. I'll start, using these patents that were discovered last December and just a few days ago, which don't necessarily reflect what the finished product will be but probably show us the direction Nintendo is thinking in (there was also the U-shaped controller from a few months ago that could detect you trying to bend either end of it in addition to reading body temperature and probably pulse, but I'm ignoring that for now because it looks like a specialized device for fitness games rather than something that fits into the overall goal of the console).

It's long been speculated that the NX would integrate fully with the next iteration of the Gameboy. I think that what we're looking at is essentially a new version of the Wii U tablet. I think it will be capable of syncing both with the Wii U and the main body of the NX as a controller, and that it will function as the new portable platform, compatible with current 3DS games at a minimum. Hopefully it will feature stronger tech than the current tablet, such as better battery life and the ability to play console games on its screen from further away than the Wii U allows (the patent says they added a vibrator, at least). But I do predict that you'll now be able to play Gameboy games on any TV through the NX body, at long last making the functionality of the old Gameboy Player a standard feature. A universal Nintendo account (with achievements) will govern all platforms.

But all of that is just improving on the Wii U. The real strategy of the NX is gleaned from FIGs 4 and 6...and it worries me. It looks to me like the tablet's screen will slide out, leaving you with a usable screenless controller for the console proper and what is essentially a dedicated gaming smart phone. The sleek form is reminiscent of a phone, and paragraph [0078] confirms that FIG 6 is showing us on-screen touch controls.

I fear this is Nintendo's attempt to break into the mobile gaming market. I fear they're still chasing the casual crowd they had with the Wii and lost with the Wii U. They've correctly identified where that crowd went to, but if I'm right about all of this then they're approaching them the wrong way. The attractiveness of phone gaming to a casual gamer has nothing to do with the controls, the profile of the system, or the style of play, but simply with the fact that they already have the phone in their pocket. It must sound derogatory to suggest that Nintendo would misunderstand something so obvious, but they have a weird way of thinking sometimes. Their continued insistence on owning the hardware (for whatever reason - maybe a lot of their money used to come from licensing fees?) continues to restrain their development of actual mobile games and ultimately leads to this strange compromise. It just seems like a very Nintendo approach.

I predict that what we'll end up with will be akin to a modern incarnation of the Dreamcast's VMU. Like the VMU, it plugs into the main body of the controller and makes it easy to bring your save data to another person's console. Like the VMU, it will be capable of linking with other VMUs (though wirelessly). And like the VMU, you'll be able to download minigames from within console games to take on the road, perhaps earning some reward once you reconnect to the main game. But unlike the VMU, the eShop will include more substantial downloadable titles, including indie titles, that you can store on a standard microSD card. It will also have some non-gaming apps, but most of them will be useless. One will be a fitness/step tracker for the new WiiFit (which will need a new name, maybe MiiFit). It will not have a phone or browser, but will include PictoChat 3.0 and StreetPass+.

They've already stated that it will not run Android. Maybe it's feasible that some kind of Android emulator could be used to make it compatible with existing games, but I don't expect that. It will be possible to port existing mobile games to NX, but it will involve all the usual Nintendo licensing. This will probably bring back third party support, at least for the portable side, because mobile games (or ports thereof) are much less of a financial risk to pursue than console games, even for a console with as small a user base as the Wii U had. I don't expect the home console specs to compete with Sony or Microsoft, so I don't foresee third party support on that end improving by much. The real question is whether or not Nintendo will port their own NX mobile games to other mobile platforms. Given the new leadership, that's at least not unthinkable at this point. I'm going to go with no, for fear that their games will perform poorly on lesser hardware and reflect negatively on the quality of their work in the minds of underinformed players.

As an aside, I imagine that engineers are scrambling right now trying to incorporate some kind of AR support into the NX following the runaway unicorn that is Pokemon GO. They're probably wishing they had a portable version of HoloLense about now. I don't see a camera on that patent, but I wouldn't be surprised if one was tacked on at the last minute.

So that's my guess. What's yours? Be as wildly speculative as possible!

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I don't think it was in the patent but sometime last year a youtuber(don't remember who it was), speculated(based off some sort of source I believe) that the NX was looking at cloud compute in order to compete with higher spec systems it would be an optional feature where when not in use your NX would connect to the NX cloud and do some of the cpu work and for doing this for other users you would get NX points of some sort which could be used for purchases or something because running the NX uses power which costs money so they needed some incentive to have people opt-in, it sounds really awesome in theory but sucks for people in rural areas where they cannot connect to other NX systems in their area etc, and would also depend on strong console sales to make the cloud stronger.

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My company is looking into a software-as-a-service model, but not a decentralized one (and we're not sending 4k 3d image data either). I'm not sure the American telecom infrastructure could handle that at the volume that would be required for it to make a significant difference in the processing of thousands of consoles at once, and I doubt Nintendo would be comfortable having the quality of their offline games rely so heavily on it.

New rumors!

I'm going to call this one fake. I don't see any advantage that this would have over the existing tablet other than being able to set the screen further away from you and playing portable Wii games (on a really awkward pair of controllers - I can't picture using the typical 4 button layout with one hand like that).

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