With the recent announcement of a release time frame for Nintendo’s upcoming home console, code-named the Nintendo NX, a lot of us in the gaming community are pondering what it could be; and if it could be successful. As the follow-up to the Nintendo Wii U, it does not have very large shoes to fill; but it is going up against two giants that have established themselves and surpassed its predecessor already. So today, we’re going to look at five categories that the Nintendo NX needs to excel in to truly be successful, and make us forget the commercial failure that the Wii U was.
Let me go ahead and get this out-of-the-way, this is merely my opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the rest of the nuGame Network staff, though I’m sure a few will agree with me on my points. I will also like to point out that I do not personally believe the Wii U to be a terrible system, I own one and absolutely loved the games I have played on it, and wish I had more time to play more; but sadly I do not. Now, without further ado, on to my list and some predictions of each category as well.
Number 1.) Advertising the console properly.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “What does he mean by properly?” the best way to surmise that question is this, when the Wii U launched a majority of the gaming community did not understand that it was a new console; as many thought it was merely an extension, or another add-on for the Nintendo Wii. This caused a lot of parents to pass it over for their children, as who wants to spend $300 for a new control method for their children’s console? The ‘casual’ Nintendo fans that grew up playing the first Nintendo console could have also been easily confused by this naming scheme, and passed it over; while it was probably only the most diehard gaming enthusiast who truly understood that it was indeed a new console.
To advertise the Nintendo NX properly, Nintendo needs to distance itself from its former console by any means necessary, while not dropping support for the Wii U, which would anger a lot of diehard Nintendo fans. The gaming public, the casual fans and diehard fans must understand that this is a new gaming console, and if it is, also a new gaming handheld console. We simply cannot have any confusion about the console this time around for the advertising to be a success; and in turn, the console to be.
Prediction #1: As the confirmed launch window is in March 2017, I expect Nintendo to release a Nintendo Direct in early February detailing the console fully. I also expect that Nintendo will launch a TV campaign during the Super Bowl 51 halftime spot. The Nintendo Direct will target the diehard and core gamers, while the Super Bowl 51 halftime spot will target core to casual gamers.
Number 2.) A Quality Launch Catalog of Games.
We now know part of the reason why the Nintendo NX is not releasing in 2016 is to make sure the launch catalog is full; according to a Nintendo release. If Nintendo wants the console to be successful, it’s going to need at least 10 games at launch; ranging throughout different genres and developers. Nintendo cannot focus merely on first party titles, nor can it make the mistake of launching in mostly third-party titles. The Nintendo NX launch is going to require a solid list of both first party and third-party titles, along with a few quality indie titles. We all know that the newest Legend of Zelda game will likely be a launch title for the NX, alongside a launch for the Wii U. A proper 3D Mario game, or Metroid game would go along with Zelda very nicely, and would give the promise of having quality from the first party. On top of those, I could see a few Wii U titles getting ‘remastered’ over onto the new console as well.
On the third-party side, Nintendo is going to need to launch with the full support of EA and Activision, and hopefully receive ports; albeit late ports of Madden, NBA Live, and FIFA from EA, along with Call of Duty from Activision. As odd as it would sound, a release of Minecraft NX Version would also be a welcome sight on the console.
The last thing Nintendo needs to launch with a quality catalog of games is a few really quality, exclusive Indie Games. The Wii U has been home to some quality exclusives, and Nintendo really needs to focus on this community and expand it to have a home on the NX.
Prediction #2: Nintendo will announce an established third-party franchise releasing an exclusive entry on the Nintendo NX during its February Nintendo NX Direct. The likelihood of what publisher this will come from includes Capcom, EA, or SEGA.
Number 3.) A Robust and Unified Online Experience
What is a robust and unified online experience exactly? It’s easy to look at what Microsoft, Sony, and Valve have done with Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam and say, “Hey, that’s what Nintendo needs to do to be good.” I personally don’t believe that’s the case, or not completely the case, at least. While all three of these online networks have their strengths, I don’t think having another “Me Too” online network is going to be enough.
Now, you could say that those three online experiences are robust, and they are mostly unified, Nintendo needs to do this one step above and cover all it’s hardware going forward. It’s needs to transcend just it’s gaming consoles, and move its experience onto mobile devices, tablets, PC’s, and more.
Give me the ability to converse with my friends on the Nintendo NX online network from anywhere I am, whether I am on the road through my phone, away from my TV at my computer, at my TV while I’m not playing a game on my NX, and of course; while I’m busily playing whatever the latest great game is for the NX.
Give me the ability to do this with a single, simple to use friends list that can still use friend codes or can use usernames. Friend codes to me are not that bad of a thing, just think of them as phone numbers; add them to your friends list once and you’re done.
Nintendo also needs to allow me to transfer my network ID over to another device and play my game saves, download my digital titles again if I need to, and allow me to make purchases through my computer, mobile device, or console using real money.
Prediction #3: The biggest thing Nintendo needs to do to satisfy fans and have a successful launch of their new console is also my third prediction. Nintendo is going to announce all previously downloaded titles from your Wii U online game library will be cross compatible with the NX. This, I do not believe will include actual Wii U or Wii titles, but will include virtual console and indie titles. Doing this at launch will give Nintendo a much larger launch library and reiterate their dedication to the online experience.
Number 4.) High Quality Hardware
This one will be short, and sweet as Nintendo has always release high quality hardware; barring the original Nintendo Entertainment System. To have a successful launch, Nintendo simply cannot have any hardware malfunction issues like Microsoft did with the Xbox 360 launch.
With new hardware, and electronics in general, hardware issues will happen and will need to be kept to a minimum with a really good warranty included.
While Nintendo doesn’t need to have the best, most powerful components available when the NX launches, it’s hardware horsepower will need to be high enough to assure quality third-party support and not be in the realm as to kill any hype that will be generated by its specs.
Prediction #4: Nintendo will hold the hardware specs under pretty tight wraps, with some leaks popping up around November or December of this year, with Nintendo announcing the full console specs at its February Nintendo NX Direct. Power specs should be slightly better than the rumored PlayStation 4 Neo console, while keeping the console in a decent price point for core to casual gamers.
Number 5.) Standard Control Schemes
Now this is one I think everyone will agree on, whether you liked the Wii U’s GamePad or not, a standard controller for the Nintendo NX would make a lot more people feel ‘better’ about playing the console.
The Wii U’s GamePad suffered from a few issues, including its size, battery life, and lack of use of the extra screen. I know personally, when I saw the GamePad I thought to myself, “That’s cool, different but think of the possibilities that second screen has.” Sadly, most of those possibilities were never take advantage of, and it just created a large controller with horrible battery life.
Enter the Wii U Pro controller and you have perfection. A natural evolution of the GameCube controller, it fits in your hand, and is similar enough to other controllers that it is familiar to most gamers already. The biggest positive Nintendo hit on with the Pro controller was battery life, with up to an 80 hour battery life on a single charge.
Nintendo needs to evolve the Wii U Pro controller for use on the NX as its primary control option. I understand that it goes against the whole, Anti-“Me Too” thoughts I normally have, but I think this is one area we can let Nintendo have a pass on.
Nintendo will of course have other control schemes as well, but we need a unified, quality main control scheme for games.
Prediction #5: Nintendo will announce their NX Pro controller to have up to a 40 hours gaming battery life with the option to use the Wii U GamePad and/or Nintendo Wii Remote Plus controllers for Wii U/Wii compatibility; Which will also announce Wii U and Wii backwards compatibility.
Alright, there are my five thoughts on what Nintendo needs to have a successful Nintendo NX launch. I know some of you people will not agree with me, may agree with me, or be partial to some ideas and not others, I want to hear what you think in the comments below, on FaceBook or on Twitter. Shortly after the Nintendo NX launches next March, I will come back to this article and comment on which I got right, which I got wrong, and which ones were close.