On 17 March, 2015, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the Japanese gaming giant is busy working on a new "dedicated game platform" codenamed NX. The reveal came during a press conference detailing Nintendo's partnership with DeNA, which will see the company make games for phones and tablets.
Iwata stated that more information would be shared regarding the new hardware next year, indicating either a late 2016 or 2017 release. At that time Nintendo's current console the Wii U would be at least four years old, and their handheld console the 3DS nearly six.
The announcement was made to assure consumers that Nintendo's commitment to dedicated gaming hardware is still paramount to them, and Iwata was at pains to say so. Nearly two and a half years on from the release of the Wii U – sales of which have been consistently disappointing – Nintendo need their next device to succeed, and here's how we believe they can do that.
A single home and handheld platform
Nintendo hasn't specified whether the new device will be a home console or a handheld, so how about both? As the Wii U has floundered the 3DS has flourished, and with the recently released New 3DS model the gap between them in terms of power and capabilities continues to shrink.
A single platform for Nintendo's handheld and home console which allows each to work individually and together could bring all of Nintendo's past and current successes together. In theory it would work like the PlayStation Vita currently does with PS4, with the ability to cross-play and cross-purchase, all while each platform has its own software support.
Nintendo have moved into this sort of area before, most recently with the Wii U and its GamePad – which can stream games running on the console to its screen without the need for a television. Back in the GameCube days, Nintendo also experimented in this area - with The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles players could use their Game Boy Advanced as a controller.
The closing gap between 3DS and Wii U has also been evident in a number of shared series. Super Mario 3D Land became Super Mario 3D World on console, while Retro Studios' Donkey Kong Country Returns went in the other direction with a remake for 3DS in 2013. Design philosophies are being shared on each system, bringing them closer together.
Our theory is that they should be brought closer still with two devices designed to be paired, released at the same time either separately or bundled, each with the ability to play the other's games in some capacity but each also with their own games and ideas.
Drop the Wii name
The Wii U's announcement was a mess. A greater focus was put on the touchscreen GamePad controller than the console itself, and it was never entirely clear whether this was an actual successor to the Wii or a peripheral for it.
When a console is announced and nobody knows quite what is, something is very wrong. The name didn't help matters either, so Nintendo had a lot to answer for when the Wii U was released and failed to drum up many sales.
With lifetime sales reaching 9.2 million in January 2015, the Wii U is hardly an abject failure, but after the huge success of the Wii (101 million units worldwide at the end of 2014) it fell well below expectations. Whatever comes next for Nintendo must have a new, clearer name.
Total Wii backwards compatibility
Should the new console have a new name, backwards compatibility with all Wii and Wii U games becomes a selling point rather than something assumed by the average consumer. This would be expected from Nintendo, as would the ability to download games purchased through the eShop on either console.
This backwards compatibility also extends to controllers, the Wiimote, the GamePad, the Super Smash Bros Gamecube controllers, the classic controllers, everything must work with the new device in tandem with whatever new control method they dream up.
An overhauled and modern online service
The NX will be built around the new membership service being co-developed by Nintendo and mobile partner DeNA, who should provide something much more up-to-date than we've previously seen from Nintendo, whose online services have been archaic for too long.
Severely limited voice chat and friend codes were just the tip of an iceberg. Nintendo's concerns over child safety online are admirable of course, but they must embrace modern times and give users an online service that puts ease of use first and adheres to the basic standards of any of its contemporaries.
That means voice chat, easier system transfers and a basic means of adding friends at the very least.
Quite whether the DeNA membership program will work to this end or simply be a like-for-like switch for Club Nintendo (which it will replace later in 2015) remains to be seen – but either way, Nintendo need to overhaul their online for the NX.
A set top box and a relatively thrill-free controller – that's should basically be all we get. No motion controls in the box, just one or two controllers and a machine that can run games at 1080p and 60 frames per second.
Motion control can and should be supported with Wii controller compatibility (as mentioned) and we also want to see that new handheld act as a controller, but otherwise we want the innovation to be kept to the games.
We want Nintendo to continue innovating successfully, but for the NX they need to keep things as simple as possible and sell whatever it ends up being on the strength of the games it can play rather than the ways you can play them.