Five Things We Want From The Nintendo NX
Today, Nintendo announced a partnership with DeNA to bring its IP to mobile phones and to create an online membership that links its current hardware to PCs and mobile. To prove that it's not out of the hardware business, Nintendo casually mentioned that it's "currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename 'NX.'" We won't hear any new information on this platform until next year, but we've got plenty of feature requests for Nintendo's upcoming device.
Go for a hybrid console
There were rumors that Nintendo's next console would combine portable and home capabilities, and we'd love to see it become a reality. As of a year ago, we learned that Nintendo's handheld and home console divisions are now integrated, but that guarantees nothing. No major gaming company has gone all-in with a hybrid yet, and it could be a game changer.
You can play Wii U games on the gamepad throughout your house and Vita supports remote play of home console titles as long as you have good wi-fi, but none of these have taken it far enough. The closest we've come to this reality is Sony's Cross-Buy and Cross-Save program. Players own multiple versions of the game tailored to the proper console and share a save in the cloud. Currently, this is limited to mostly indie games.
Imagine if you bought a console in one box and were guaranteed that every game could be played on your home TV and on the go. Achieving home console performance out of a portable probably isn't feasible, but docking the device for extra horsepower or simply to unlock a separate, higher-quality version of the game that would be stored in the dock's hard drive would be amazing. If your friends had the console, you could bring your portable over and dock it there to play games they don't own. The fanbase wouldn't have to choose between The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Mario Kart 8, and Nintendo would have one (hopefully) large install base instead of two fractured audiences.
Better leverage digital ownership
Setting the Wii U's virtual console catalog back to zero was absurd. Consumers are used to buying something once on iOS or Steam and owning it no matter how you upgrade your mobile device or PC. Sure, you could fire up that awkward Wii emulator, but to easily access your classic games on the Wii U you had to wait for Nintendo to put it out and then pay a few bucks for an "upgrade" fee.
I would love to go to town on the shop buying all my favorite classics, but the restrictions hold me back. A) I have to buy it twice if I want it on Wii U and 3DS and B) Who knows if I'll have to buy Super Mario World all over again on the next system. Nintendo's development of a universal "membership" with DeNA sounds like it is built to unify your Nintendo identity across multiple platforms. Let's just hope this includes game purchases.
Upgrade the screen
Nintendo isn't saying whether the NX will be for the home or portable, but since both the Wii U and 3DS have built-in screens it wouldn't surprise us if that tradition carries on somehow. If this is the case, get with the times in terms of screen resolution. The Wii U's screen is slightly under the resolution of the very first iPhone released in 2007 (158 pixels-per-inch vs. 163ppi) and the New 3DS XL is far worse (96ppi on the top screen).
When you look at your phone's great imagery all day long and then over to Nintendo's screens it simply doesn't hold up. To be fair, phones can cost $500-$700 outside of contract so cost seems to be the main factor here. Hopefully, by the time Nintendo is ready to manufacture the NX, the cost of a 300ppi+ screen will be affordable enough to include.
Keep up with the Joneses
The Wii U is a lot closer to the power of a PS3/360 than a PS4 or Xbox One. Sure, the 1080p visuals and surround sound are a jump up from the Wii and Nintendo's first-party games still look great, but the lack of horsepower is killing the Wii U's prospects. Third parties can't justify scaling back their PS4/Xbox One/PC ambitions to make an inferior Wii U port. Combined with Nintendo's traditionally poor relationship with third-parties, this means a gaming consumer can't feel confident only owning Wii U.
You get all the great Nintendo titles but no Fallout, Shadow of Mordor, Destiny, Dragon Age... the list goes on forever. Many only invest in a single console in each generation. If Nintendo had its great first-party lineup plus all of the top third-party titles, it would be sitting pretty with NX.
Follow HBO Go's lead
Nintendo's back catalog is loaded with some of the finest masterpieces in gaming history. Why not make all of your legacy content available for a monthly fee? I'm not expecting all of Nintendo's brand-new games to appear day-one like on HBO Go, but if you emulate the basics of that simple program you can have customers overwhelmed with NES, SNES, Game Boy and much more constantly doling out $10 to $15 a month. Like with Netflix, people will probably forget to use it for awhile and still dole out the fee month after month. It's easy money. The least Nintendo could do is start a program like PlayStation Plus where subscribers get a handful of recent games every month for free.