Nintendo NX: Handheld console killer OR glorious rebirth

The Nintendo NX is arguably one of the most anticipated console releases for a while. Not because we know that it will be incredible but because we know for it to succeed it has to be revolutionary.Nintendo is in a period of transition. Their last home console outright failed and got squashed by the XBox One and PlayStation 4 and even though their handheld, console the 3DS, is undoubtably the king of that market it now has major competition from the mobile market. They know that they have to approach their hardware from a new angle and that their next step is vital to bring them back to the forefront of the console market.

The home console is booming this current generation with the PS4 and XBox One selling extremely well and getting new and innovative games both from first part and third party developers. Nintendo needs to crack this market to make their hardware a success. They have not been serious players in the home console war for a long time now and even thought the Nintedndo Wii was beyond a success it was a perfect storm of a unique selling point that had mass appeal not a typical gaming machine. Because of this the giants of the gaming world didn’t fully embrace it and so games like Call of Duty never flourished on the Wii.

Party games that helped push the Wii to the heights it reached don’t have the appeal they used to. The so called ‘Hardcore Gaming’ and Esport games are now pushing the boundaries and driving the home consoles forward and because of this Nintendo needs to either evolve or give up.

The handheld console market that has been Nintendo’s bread and butter since the Game Boy is also at a cross roads. For years the only way to play console style games on the go was with a handheld like the Game Boy, DS or 3DS. Sony also dove into this market with the the PSP (Playstation Portable) and more recently the PlayStation Vita. And even though the PSP was extremely successful by the time the Vita came out in 2012 the market had already started to shift.

As mobile phones have become more powerful the handheld gaming market has shifted to be used on a device we all carry with us all the time. It was only logical and even though people still carried handheld consoles to get that added experience or exclusive games that Nintendo is famous for for the average consumer they could get all the gaming they could ask for on the move. Nintendo has even recognised this shift now and is creating mobile versions of their properties such as Pokemon with Pokemon Go to capitalise on the current market place.

So we now come to the Nintendo NX. The next major console release from Nintendo. We know very little about this console except that it is scheduled to release in March 2017 and will be “different and unique”. Now as for rumours, it is suggested that Nintendo may be working on a powerful home console that can compete with the PS4 and XBox one and therefore attract the big third party developers and hopefully steal away some of the market from those already established consoles. If rumours are to be believed then the NX would not only be a substantial home console release but also have an integrated handheld that works along side the main unit. This is where Nintendo could present something that really revolutionises the overall console experience and put Microsoft and Sony on alert if it can be done right.

Nintendo has a huge and dedicated fan base for its handhelds but in order for them to keep that fan base from abandoning their dedicated gaming device in favour of the ever more powerful and capable mobile phones then Nintendo needs to offer people something that phones can do and that’s home console quality gaming on the go.

If Nintendo can somehow make the NX capable of transitioning between home console and handheld and then back again they will allow their fans to do something truly revolutionary and have a seamless gaming ecosystem no matter where they are. Sony and Microsoft have both tried to fill this void with PlayStation Remote play and Xbox Play Anywhere but a dedicated machine that does this seamlessly would really appeal to those on the go or who travel a lot. It could also pave the way for handheld gaming to evolve onto the next level of performance and mass appeal that Sony tried to do with the Vita.

In doing so though would the alienate their current handheld market? If the NX does manage to pull of this perfect balance of consoles it will most definitely be more expensive than the current 3DS and you would assume be more the both the Xbox and PS4. Because of the added power and performance it could also fall into a trap of focusing on more conventional console games and loose sight of the typical handheld gaming experiences that fans have loved and helped make the 3DS and previous generations thrive.

If Nintendo really is planning on merging its home console and handheld platforms into one gaming experience they will have to do the difficult job of breaking new ground as well as not loosing the heart of their handheld platforms that has existed since the Game Boy.
Can Nintendo reemerge as a leading player in the console market? Will their current products be left behind for a new all encompassing experience? We don’t know yet but what we do know is that the NX is one to watch!

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