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CaimDark avatar 1:54 PM on 12.11.2013  (server time)
What To Expect From The Next Generation Of Nintendo Hardware

My relationship with Nintendo is a curious one. Like most children of the 90s, Nintendo had an inordinate influence on my life and the industry, and those memories continue to shape us to a degree long after Nintendo stopped almost literally owning the game market. It is no coincidence that industry types from all corners can't stop talking about Nintendo, whether it's to praise or to criticize: Nintendo may no longer own the market, but its influence on gamers, developers, executives and game critics alike, one way or the other, far exceeds what its market share would suggest.

It's funny, I've always been a self-identified Nintendo fan, and considered Nintendo to be a big, important part of my gaming life that I couldn't do without, until one day it suddenly hit me that, for several years now, the vast majority of my gaming time was spent outside the Nintendoverse. Which makes it all the more ironic that it was the Wii U of all things that brought Nintendo back to my life in a big way. I started once again following industry trends more closely, watching Wii U sales, you know, the kind of time wasting only enthusiasts do. Oh, and I may also have played a lot of Wii U this year. Not that it matters, because talking about it is way more fun! And since everyone is an analyst on the internet, I'm going to impart my wisdom with you lovely people and reveal what all that Nintendoeing told me about their next generation plans. You're welcome!

Yes, there will be more Nintendo hardware.

Make no mistake, the Wii U won't drive Nintendo out of the home console market (much to the delight of pundits and analysts. Imagine if Nintendo actually did that and they suddenly lost one of the most effective clickbaits in the gaming world!) regardless of how well it does. Nintendo is simply too long-term oriented for that, and you can bet they were already planning its successor before it even launched. Over the past years, Nintendo hired 1000 extra employees (meant to prevent precisely the sort of problems the Wii U faced. It was too late for the Wii U, but hopefully it will pay off next time) and opened a brand new 30-billion yen facility to better integrate handheld and home console development, and this isn't company known for freaking out and changing everything over a single flop.

There will still be two of them

Why isn't the Wii U portable? Is there even a reason to distinguish consoles between home console and potable in this day and age? Surely the next Nintendo hardware will ditch this ancient divide, possibly a Gamepad-like tablet that is the console itself, right? Wrong.

I get that the future is exciting and we want new and exciting things. I get that consumers and pundits want what they want, and "making business sense" isn't exactly their number one concern, but I'd bet the farm Nintendo has a new handheld and a new home console in the works. There are several reasons for this, but I'll stick with just two big ones: for one, it's risk management. If they release only a single consoles and it's a disaster, they have nothing to fall back on, having two products lessens that risk. The other reason is the same reason laptops never made desktops obsolete: cost. The idea that it's "pointless" to have a home console AND a portable console in "this day and age" reminds me a bit of the excitement of the early days of the internet, when it was supposed to make geography and the old economy irrelevant. As exciting as it would have been, it didn't happen, just as the tablet revolution didn't rewrite basic economic rules.

Keeping costs low and focusing on the games themselves will once again take center stage

I've argued before that keeping prices as low as possible were always a priority for Nintendo, until the DS and Wii taught them the wrong lessonsgave them confidence to go for higher-end products. It didn't work, and next time keeping the price low will take precedence over expensive features like 3D and the Gamepad.

By the same token, the focus will be back on the games, not on cost-adding "unique features" or "new ways to play" like the 3D and the Gamepad. 3D never sold the 3DS, a price cut and an onslaught of big games did. Likewise, if the Wii U turns around, it won't be because of the Gamepad, it will be due to games like Mario 3D World, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros, which largely limit Gamepad integration to off-tv play. 

That's not to say Nintendo isn't trying to come up with another Wii. If they can, all the better, but they won't sacrifice affordability, and they won't expect the "gimmick" to carry the system on its own.

The second screen isn't going anywhere, but the Gamepad is

Nintendo is possibly the most stubborn and proudest (as in the capital sin) company in the business. They seem to really, really hate using something they didn't create first, to the point of settling for something worse just to be different (I'm looking at you, Gamecube Controller). I strongly suspect that is the main reason Nintendo so far wants nothing to do with achievements.

Which brings us back to the second screen. By now it's well established the Gamepad costs too much and didn't resonate as expected, so it's a safe bet it isn't coming back. It's possible the Wii U Gamepad will be compatible with their next console, but that's it. 

That's not to say Nintendo will give up on the second screen. The success of their handheld business mean a PS4/Vita style combo could be significantly more successful than, well, a PS4/Vita combo, and that's the direction I suspect Nintendo is going. I just hope their pride doesn't get in the way!

Backwards compatibility will die for good

Backwards compatibility is pretty neat, and as far as the internet goes, everybody loves it. I played Gamecube games on my Wii and Wii games on my Wii U (they're from different regions, thanks Nintendo...), and it's a big deal that I don't need to rebuy all those Wiimotes again. Unfortunately, it's just not a deciding factor for the vast majority of consumers, as the successful launches of the Ps4/Xbone demonstrate. I will be the first to admit I wouldn't have boycotted the Wii or Wii U over it. As such, it won't be a priority for Nintendo. Their next console will likely follow in the footsteps of Sony and Microsoft and significantly change its architecture, hopefully making it more developer-friendly, and goodbye backwards compatibility.

Nintendo will still be doomed

Because somethings never change.

So that's what my crystal ball told me, among other things, but I've shared enough wisdom for one day. What about you? What are your prediction powers saying?

Edit: that self fap was an accident. Honest!

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