Posted by: seanmalstrom | June 1, 2015

Unlikely that Nintendo will adopt an ‘Open OS’ like Android

The latest buzz (bzzzz…. bzzzz…..) is that Nintendo may adopt Android OS for its NX system. This sounds like Third Party Wet Dreams than anything. There is little business advantage to using Android and many disadvantages. Cell phone game makers would love it to be Android since they can port their crappy games over. Android has many security concerns.

Third parties don’t call the shots with Nintendo. This isn’t Sony or Microsoft. Wii and DS and NES and Gameboy didn’t become hits because of third party software but only due to First Party Software. Nintendo prioritizes its business first.

Android on the NX would be like Windows on the N64. I don’t see it happening. Nintendo would see Android as a ‘PC OS’ as in mobile PC. Nintendo believes anything PC is NOT for them.

(However, Nintendo at the apex of their success with DS and Wii decided to go full retard mode with 3DS and Wii U so anything is possible. I certainly would never have thought Nintendo would make such disastrous decisions so many years ago.)

Here is what Iwata said:

Last year Nintendo reorganized its R&D divisions and integrated the handheld device and home console development teams into one division under Mr. Takeda. Previously, our handheld video game devices and home video game consoles had to be developed separately as the technological requirements of each system, whether it was battery-powered or connected to a power supply, differed greatly, leading to completely different architectures and, hence, divergent methods of software development. However, because of vast technological advances, it became possible to achieve a fair degree of architectural integration. We discussed this point, and we ultimately concluded that it was the right time to integrate the two teams.

What Iwata is saying here is that due to MASSIVE advances in mobile computing (thanks to smartphones and screen advances), the hardware differences between mobile and home are not what they used to be. Remember that Nintendo is an integrated hardware and software company. With the hardware reaching similarity, the software can be much easily shared. Hence, the architectural integration.

Oh, let’s read on, reader.

For example, currently it requires a huge amount of effort to port Wii software to Nintendo 3DS because not only their resolutions but also the methods of software development are entirely different. The same thing happens when we try to port Nintendo 3DS software to Wii U. If the transition of software from platform to platform can be made simpler, this will help solve the problem of game shortages in the launch periods of new platforms. Also, as technological advances took place at such a dramatic rate, and we were forced to choose the best technologies for video games under cost restrictions, each time we developed a new platform, we always ended up developing a system that was completely different from its predecessor.

Iwata is referring to software development (games) in terms of generational transitions. Each new consoles they had to start all over. Well, not all of them…

The only exception was when we went from Nintendo GameCube to Wii. Though the controller changed completely, the actual computer and graphics chips were developed very smoothly as they were very similar to those of Nintendo GameCube, but all the other systems required ground-up effort. However, I think that we no longer need this kind of effort under the current circumstances. In this perspective, while we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture. It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.

Is that not interesting? The Wii, which was Nintendo’s only example EVER of a console that hit the ground running, is also the ONLY CONSOLE to share architecture. Wii was easy to develop for because it was a ‘souped up’ Gamecube in architecture. Ironically, while the Wii U may be seen as the ‘bad half’ of Wii, it is actually the Gamecube that is the ‘bad half’ of the Wii. The Gamecube and Wii are siblings, the Wii U is from another family unit. NX will be a sibling with Wii U.

It’s difficult to believe Android rumors when Iwata says the NX system will be using much of the Wii U architecture. What Iwata is most likely saying is creating a hardware neutral architecture like OS or Android.

Still, I am not sure if the form factor (the size and configuration of the hardware) will be integrated. In contrast, the number of form factors might increase. Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform. To cite a specific case, Apple is able to release smart devices with various form factors one after another because there is one way of programming adopted by all platforms. Apple has a common platform called iOS. Another example is Android. Though there are various models, Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models. The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples. Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future.

It is clear Iwata is talking about creating a common platform. The Android rumor has as much credibility as Iwata hating kittens.

Above: Iwata does not hate kittens.


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