If you asked gamers what the future of gaming would be in 1985, they would say “PC gaming as consoles are obsolete and will be forever dead.” Then the NES came along.
If you asked gamers what the future of gaming would be in 2004, they would say “Console games on handhelds,” due to the PSP and that Nintendo based handheld gaming would be going away forever.
If you asked gamers what the future of gaming would be in 2006, they would say “Multimedia consoles with large cinematic games” completely missing phenomena like the Wii or Minecraft.
The point is that gamers do not understand the future of their medium is because they are consumers, not businessmen or investors. Gamers tend to think in dumbed down talking points fed by marketing departments at various game companies. I will prove this easily.
A Nintendo hardware patent has sprung up and is sparking intrigue about whether Nintendo will be using carts for the NX. What people are saying is…
Will Nintendo return to carts for Generation 9?
The premise of the question is incorrect. Nintendo never left carts. The 3DS uses cartridges. The DS uses cartridges.
“But handheld and home console markets are different!”
The last time I heard this was right before the Wii came out in 2006. We saw what happened then.
Let’s try to apply a more business centric logic to all of this. Business logic does not mean screaming ‘handheld market’ and ‘home console market’.
The actual difference between home and handheld games
In the past, Nintendo competitors kept trying to create home console experiences on the handheld and kept failing. Sega with the Game Gear. NCsoft with the TurboExpress. Sony with the PSP and Vita. The reason why the Gameboy remained in black and white was due to the consumer experience, not due to ‘technology’. The consumer experience wanted fast games where the battery wouldn’t die. At the time, the batteries needed for a Game Gear made it less than ideal for portable use. “But Nintendo added color as soon as it became technologically feasible! So it proves that technology matters!” Ahh, but it was not technology that was the check on the progress. Nintendo doesn’t make $1000 consoles, which would technologically run rings around all competitors, because the consumer experience of paying a thousand dollars for a game device would be very, very poor.
In the same way, handheld games do not translate as well to home use. Yet, Nintendo has put out hardware that did this with the Gameboy Player and the Super Gameboy.
How the customer consumes the game is the only difference, not the hardware. With the DS, we saw how it overtook the main home console at home usage as people played it at home. In the past, no one would want to play the Gameboy at home if they had access to a NES or Super Nintendo. Also, we are seeing Nintendo’s home console games appear on the handheld such as ports like Donkey Kong Returns or full games like Smash Brothers.
What I believe is occurring is that Nintendo believes it can tailor games to be consumed differently whether at home or outside the home. If Nintendo can do this with the software, it can solve many problems.
Nintendo doesn’t believe in the ‘home console’
Iwata would routinely think about the nature of our definitions and so we must. Aside from how they are consumed, what is a home console?
It is nothing more than a box connected to a TV. A controller is also connected to that box for input. This is all it is. The handheld game console has the input and output tied directly in it (which means handheld consoles are closer to arcades in that definition).
With the Wii U, Nintendo has severed the TV. What if Nintendo made a console that allowed you to change display outputs like you can with control inputs? That would be revolutionary!
I dislike handheld gaming only because of the controls and the tiny screen. But with the creation of the Super Gameboy and Gameboy Player, Nintendo seems to understand this issue.
What I am seeing from that patent (and it is only a patent which may mean nothing) is that Nintendo is allowing the player to play how he or she wants. Why should any game you buy be tethered to ‘home console’ or ‘handheld use’ strictly? It’s dumb.
Look how fast handheld technology has changed!
Above: PSP and DS came out in 2004. Ipod 4, which contained color PHOTOS, came out in 2004. This was where the technology was at then.
Above: Ipod 5 came out in 2006 which had video playback. Ipod 5 becomes a direct competitor to PSP for the ‘video space’.
Above: The iphone came out in 2007.
Above: ipad came out in 2010.
Above: 3DS came out in 2011 as did the iphone 4s.
Above: Vita came out in 2011-2012.
Today is the year 2015. The capability of mobile computing devices HAS TAKEN OFF. If you remove 3d from the 3DS, you get a very cheap product.
To sum up, here is where I see things going with the NX:
-Nintendo will not incorporate 3D hardware output in the NX.
-NX will be the successor to both 3DS and Wii U. (Note that Nintendo has not said it is one or the other!)
-Nintendo has absolutely no business reason to continue the traditional home console as sales of it have tanked in both Japan and in the West.
-The future points to the West becoming more like Japan due to crushing mini-recessions. Handheld gaming is soon becoming more and more widespread in the West especially for Nintendo hardware.
-All we know about the NX is that Iwata has said it will change the structure of the dedicated home console system.
Is the NX going to be like the Vita Home version? Doubtful. I am curious if it will be more like the Turbographx-16…
You could use a Turnographx-16 cartridge for home console or for handheld use!
The big issue for Nintendo for Generation 9 seems to be unifying the home and handheld departments. Whether this results in a unified console remains to be seen. I don’t see Nintendo going wildly Blue Ocean like the Wii or anything like that. I think Nintendo is more concerned about reducing costs to boost profits. The best way to do that is to eliminate the home console ‘war’.
I see Microsoft and Sony following suit soon. Microsoft is already on that path with Windows 10. Windows 10 at home, Windows 10 in the handheld, etc.
Microsoft is to operating systems as Nintendo is to hardware consoles. Windows 10 is to Microsoft what NX may be to Nintendo.