Ever since Nintendo announced it was working on a new “dedicated game platform” last year, the rumours haven’t stopped. Will it output 4K? Will it be the hybrid between a portable console and a home console? But perhaps the most important question is: will it be able to compete against the rumoured newer versions of the PS4 and Xbox One? And if it can’t, will this be the last home console Nintendo ever makes?
While PlayStation and Xbox fans may be excited (or annoyed) at the idea a new, more powerful version of the consoles they know and love is coming out soon, Nintendo fans are quietly concerned. The Nintendo NX is going to have to be just as good, but ideally better, than these new consoles. If the rumours are true and the PS4.5 can output 4K games (and the NX can’t), then Nintendo is going to have a fight on its hands.
What’s more, Nintendo recently confirmed it does not plan to sell the NX at a loss. Again, this could potentially be worrying news, as both the Xbox One and PS4 sell at a loss for a reason – to make the hardware affordable for consumers. If the NX’s price point is too high, fans will be turned off and look instead to the much more affordable alternatives.
Let’s not forget that the NX has PlayStation VR and Xbox VR to contend with too. However, there’s nothing to say that the promise of “something very new” isn’t related to VR or similar technology.
Wii U Woes
In four years the Wii U has sold just 12.8 million units. Despite being released a year later, the PS4 has sold a staggering 40 million units – a figure which is only going to soar further once the next version of the console is released. The Wii U, on the other hand, is slowly going to fade further into the background as Nintendo shifts its focus onto the NX.
The sales figures for the Wii U have been worrying, especially when you compare them to how successful the Wii was. Since launch Nintendo has sold 101.63 million Wiis, making it one of the best selling consoles of all time. The original DS performed even better, having shifted 154 million units in its lifetime. Again, the 3DS tails behind with 58.85 million sales – although that’s not a figure to be sniffed at, especially when you consider its main competitor, the PlayStation Vita, sold so poorly PlayStation stopped reporting on its sales figures.
Will The NX Succeed?
If Nintendo has done it once with the Wii, there’s no reason to say it can’t do it again with the NX. As mentioned previously, Nintendo has already said the console is a “new way to play games” and that’s exactly what the Wii offered. In all respects, the Wii should have failed – it launched at the same time as the much more powerful PS3 – but its accessible design and innovative way to play meant it sold like crazy. Everyone from old ladies to preschoolers were picking up Wii Remotes and challenging each other to games of tennis and bowling.
While the Wii’s low specs didn’t stop it from outselling the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii U failed to impress. Nintendo made the mistake of releasing it a year before PlayStation and Xbox’s new models and its latest gimmick just didn’t catch on as well as it was hoped. The early release also meant that the number of games were sparse, particularly as third-party developers failed to be won round by the Wii U’s mechanics. Worse still, the third-party games that did come out on the Wii U, were nowhere near as graphically impressive as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions – we’re looking at you, Mass Effect 3.
This is a problem that Nintendo is sensibly tackling head-on this time. The NX is set to launch in March 2017, whereas the new PS4 and Xbox One are rumoured to be coming out in November, just before Christmas. While this means Nintendo will miss the Christmas rush, it also means it will not have to directly compete against PlayStation and Xbox. Moreover, Nintendo wants to release later than planned to ensure that there are enough games at launch. We all know that a severe lack of games can stunt a console’s early success, so this is a wise move.
What Will Happen If It Doesn’t?
Nintendo has got some serious cash in the bank, so even if the NX does fail it’s highly unlikely that the company would be in any financial trouble, especially if the console is being sold at a profit. However, it’s not financially feasible to keep releasing consoles for the sake of it if they are not selling. If the NX sells just as poorly or worse than the Wii U, there’s every chance that Nintendo will reconsider its place in the home console market.
It may instead choose to focus on handheld gaming, as it has always had huge success in this market. Nintendo is now developing several mobile games, and its first app, Miitomo, has been downloaded more than ten million times. There’s every possibility that a focus on mobile/portable gaming would be more profitable for Nintendo.
The truth is, we won’t know how successful the NX will be until we know more about it, and even then we can only speculate until it’s on the market. It also depends how well the new versions of the PS4 and Xbox One sell – consumers may well decide they don’t want to buy the same console again, even if it is more powerful. Many may instead choose to wait for the NX, especially if Nintendo is smart and reveals more about the console before the PS4.5 and Xbox One.5’s release dates.
It would be a shame if Nintendo ever decides to pull out of the home console market, but thankfully it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.