The NX: 10 Educated Guesses About Nintendo's Next Console

What Will Nintendo's Upcoming Console Be Like? For Now, We Can Only Guess

Nintendo is working on a new game console, codenamed the NX, but has remained mum on what exactly it is. Still, stray comments and little pieces of news make it possible to take a few guesses. These guesses could all be wrong, but until Nintendo tells us more (which they won't until at least July), guessing is the only game in town.

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It’s a Home Console

Her Interactive

Confidence: 100% (was 70%)

When then-president Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo was “developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept” called the NX, it was unclear whether it was a home or portable system. But a few months later Reggie Fils-Aime said Nintendo was “hard at work on our next home console,” and a few months after that a new president, Tatsumi Kimishima, told Time, “we’re not building the next version of Wii or Wii U,” suggestion the NX would be a home console.

This doesn’t mean it won’t, as some have suggested, be a portable/home hybrid of some sort, but at the least, it will be something to hook up to your TV. And while a supposed Nintendo leak claims that the NX is not a console but rather an operating system, and that the first NX console will be a portable, huge laundry list-style leaks are so rarely genuine that I feel safe in ignoring this one. 

UPDATE: Now that Nintendo has announced the next Legend of Zelda will be a dual release for the NX and Wii U, my confidence on this is 100%.

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Third Party Developers are Making Games for it

In quartets, four dancers each have a different part to play. Ubisoft

Confidence: 95%

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Nintendo has put NX development kits in the hands of third-party developers. 

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It Will Probably Introduce a Cross-platform OS

Nintendo 3DS

Confidence: 60%

In 2013, Nintendo combined their home and portable game divisions into a single department. Iwata told investors the goal is to no longer create new operating systems from scratch. NX is likely to be first device to use an OS that will also be used by subsequent portable systems and to develop mobile games. In time, Nintendo should like to be able to easily create the same games for multiple platforms.

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It Probably Won’t be Region-Locked

Burn the Rope
Big Blue Bubble

Confidence: 55%

Nintendo has often been asked about their archaic region locking, which prevents a game made for one country to be played in a machine made for another. In May 2015, Iwata said that region locking would not be removed on current consoles, but an unlocked NX was under “positive consideration.”  

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It’s Likely to Have a Properly Integrated Account System.

Wii Shop Channel

Confidence: 45%

One frustration of current Nintendo consoles is that if you buy a game online, it is attached to the console it is purchased on rather than on the player’s account, a weirdly old-fashioned system that means if you sell your Wii U and buy another one, you don’t have those games anymore.

Nintendo’s partner DeNA is now working on a new account system which has all sorts of bells and whistles and sounds like it will work across all Nintendo platforms. They know how other game account systems work. While it is possible that they will stupidly keep tying games to consoles, the creation of a new system is the perfect time to drop an archaic, unpopular system.

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Odds Are it Will Get a Metroid Game

Metroid Prime Trilogy
Samus. Nintendo

Confidence: 85%

Wii U owners have been clamoring for a Wii U Metroid game for years, and were sorely disappointed when Metroid producer Kensuke Tanabe told Eurogamer in 2015 that since it would take three years from then to complete a new one, it was likely to “be on Nintendo's NX console.” 

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Also Probably a Dragon Quest Game

Dragon Quest X
Square Enix

Confidence: 70%

At a press conference, a Square Enix producer announced Dragon Quest XI and X were planned for the NX, as well as the PS4 and 3DS. Square Enix later walked back the statement, saying the NX was only under consideration.

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It Might Have a Touchscreen Controller

Nintendo Controller Patent

Confidence: 40%

In 2015, Nintendo patented two devices; a game console that included a “display unit” controller and a patent for a neat controller that looks like a standard, Pro Controller-style device except the top surface is a touchscreen, with buttons sticking up through holes in the screen.

Nintendo patents a lot of things they never get around to manufacturing, but this one makes sense, since it would build on their experiences with touch screens but offer a less daunting form factor than the Wii U gamepad. It would also allow for backwards compatibility, which Nintendo has supplied in all their recent consoles.

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It Conceivably Won’t Use Game Disks

Nintendo Console Patent

Confidence: 10%

The other notable feature of that game console patent mentioned about is it doesn’t include an optical disk drive. If this is a patent for the NX, it would mean that either the game will use some other sort of media for games, like SD cards, or Nintendo will boldly enter the future by dropping physical disks and making NX games digital only.  This would, of course, interfere with Nintendo’s penchant for backwards compatible consoles; perhaps they would sell an external disk drive for those who need that. 

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It May Launch in Late 2016

WarioWare: Smooth Moves

Confidence: 0% (was 55%)

Blogger Emily Rogers has pointed out a number of news stories that suggest Nintendo may be planning to release a console this year (post gone; her blog seems to have been deserted and taken over by wolverines). For the most part, Nintendo doesn’t reveal and launch a console in the same year, so normally we'd expect a 2017 launch, but VentureBeat makes a good case for why Nintendo might not wait.

UPDATE: I was wrong on this one: Nintendo has announced it will launch in March, 2017.