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Nintendo NX to be a turning point for console gaming?

Posted by on September 27, 2016.

The last two generations of video game consoles have seen more than their usual share of controversy. Gaming is often a controversial medium socially, ethically and economically, but more recently the controversy has been coming from within; from gamers themselves. In the PS3/Xbox360 and PS4/Xbox One generations, many gamers and critics have been remarking that console gaming no longer offers anything that PC gaming does not.

Where consoles used to offer a quick, plug-and-play experience while PCs required more configuration, the practice of post-launch patching and hard drive installations on consoles mean that games can often take as long to set up and use as they would on PC. Console gaming is losing its unique selling point, and may be in danger of losing ground as powerful PCs become more accessible.

With the current generation – the PS4, Xbox One and WiiU – still active, the industry still has some time to decide on its next direction. But sooner or later, console gaming needs to face the question of where it goes from here. Will the next console generation be yet more of the same, just with one more level of polish and detail? Will they expand on the concept of being ‘media centres’ as the PS4 and Xbox One are doing? Are we reaching the limits of graphical power as we approach photorealism, and will there be any innovations left when we do?

Nintendo’s next project, the Nintendo NX, may well answer a lot of these questions when it releases next March. For now though, there are even more questions surrounding the future console. Virtually no information has been revealed yet, and unconfirmed speculation is rampant. One of the longest-standing rumours about the console is that it will somehow be a hybrid of a home console and a mobile device – and this may have been implicitly confirmed as true.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Tsunekazu Ishihara, the CEO of the Pokémon Company, said, “The NX is trying to change the concept of what it means to be a home console device or a hand-held device”. This seems to be a strong indication that the Nintendo NX will adopt elements of both, without necessarily being recognisable as primarily one or the other.

Console and mobile gaming are often seen as almost polar opposites – representative of the ‘casual and hardcore’ division between gamers. They also both represent very large and active markets. If Nintendo’s goal is really to occupy the middle ground between the two sectors, it could well usher in a new wave of games development with a completely different focus from what we’ve seen before – or it may prove that console gaming and mobile gaming are fundamentally incompatible.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, has spoken very positively about the Nintendo NX’s technology and confirmed that Ubisoft will be developing third party games for the system, as reported by Gamespot. While the usual slew of Nintendo IPs have already been confirmed for the console – Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, etc. – support from third party developers is always a promising sign for any new product, and lack of it can severely hamper a console’s success.

With so much still to be revealed about the Nintendo NX, whether this device will lead its console generation, find a unique niche in the industry or change the face of games development remains to be seen.

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Submitted in: Josh Townsend |