Is the NX Already Doomed?
In six months time, Nintendo's new console, currently code-named the NX, will be released to the general public. Usually, the release of a new console is one of anticipation and excitement; one that has people discussing almost every aspect of it and making plans to camp outside shops weeks in advance just so they can get it before anyone else. But this is not the case here because there is only one question that people are asking, and it's one that should've been answered a very long time ago:
What is the NX?
For some reason, Nintendo has remained completely coy about the thing; absolutely refusing to talk about it. In fact, in an interview with Nintendo of Canada rep Andrew Collins that was written on this very website, a small section was completely removed at the behest of Nintendo of Canada because the NX was simply mentioned. I was already pretty pessimistic about it, but now, I am genuinely beginning to believe that Nintendo don't know what they're doing and, as a result, the NX may flop hard.
The obvious rebuttal is that Nintendo is just generating hype. Every games company does it and for a good reason. We've all seen those teaser trailers that make incredibly vague promises; they DO get us excited. But Nintendo seems to have been going about this in the wrong way and has wound up alienating, confusing and downright irritating the gaming community.
Let's recap. The NX was officially announced by Nintendo in March 2015. In their defense, they did clarify that we wouldn't really learn anything about it for at least another year, probably as a means to keep hype at a minimum. Fair enough, but I can't help but feel that, if that was the case, then they should've waited a bit longer before dropping the bombshell of a new home console being in the works. The Wii U was barely over two years old at the time. The poor thing was already underselling, and now Nintendo was throwing it under the bus.
Regardless of what they said, Nintendo were very much giving up on it. They deemed it a lost cause and for a good reason. Between the poor marketing, the new controller that wound up being something of a hindrance, and a shoddy (and kind of pathetic) launch, it's no surprise that Nintendo would decide to drop it.
But this had clearly left them stuck between a rock and a hard place, if the rock was on fire and the hard place was covered with rusty knives. They couldn't continue to support the Wii U. Despite having a year head-start, it was lagging behind both the PS4 and Xbox One. As of July 2016, it had sold at least 13 million units worldwide. Think that's a lot? The PS4, in less time, has sold over 40 million.
So, it only made sense to drop it and focus all their efforts into a brand, spanking new console, right? Well, here's the drawback. Upon announcing the NX, everybody knew this meant that the Wii U was on its last legs. Everybody knew that Nintendo were admitting defeat; admitting that they made mistakes regarding it. The question, then, wasn't how the NX would help them recover. It was:
How can we trust you not to make the same mistakes again?
And to their credit, so far they haven't made the same mistakes. Instead, they opted to make brand new ones.
In the year-and-a-half since its announcement, what have Nintendo actually told us about it? Ignore all the rumours and what do we officially know about it? Almost nothing.
Nintendo had a prime opportunity to at least give us something at this year's E3. Maybe a scrounge of information. At least a mention of what it could entail. But nope. The whole time was spent on showing off the new Zelda and Pokémon titles. And don't get me wrong, I'm especially excited for both but when that's all you have to show at E3, arguably the biggest video game related event of the year, it doesn't leave a good impression.
It may not have been as hilariously awkward as some of the press conferences on show but at least they had plenty of things to reveal and show off. At least they had something of a prescence. I stayed up until 2am to watch Sony's conference and I didn't regret it at all. Nintendo had three days of content on show; I watched maybe ten minutes of it.
We don't even have a list of games to get us excited for it. I'm sure there are games in the works but so far, we only have five officially confirmed titles - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dragon Quest XI, Project Sonic 2017, Just Dance 2017 and Pikmin 4.
Three of those are multi-platform titles, meaning you won't need the NX to play them. We haven't seen anything about Pikmin 4, so it's definitely not a launch title and, while it has a sizable fan-base, it's not enough to convince the gaming masses to invest in the console.
That just leaves Zelda which could've been the NX's killer app if it wasn't for the fact that it'll also be released on Wii U. So, there is not a single game on the NX that will convince people outside of the die-hard Nintendo fans to buy it on launch.
Nintendo's secrecy regarding the console has just become asinine at this point. I can understand not wanting the competition to know what you're working on but when you won't even tell third-party developers what it is whilst simultaneously asking them to make games for it, you officially become that guy. You know, that guy who loved to brag about all the juicy gossip and secrets they knew, daring you to ask what they know and then saying "Oh I'll never tell."
Generating hype is all about timing. Like a fine wine, you need to let the secrecy fester but only for a while. Leave it for too long and it becomes stale and uninteresting. Suddenly, people no longer care what you have to offer; they grew tired of it long ago and are now invested in another shiny new toy. Nintendo's utter refusal to discuss the NX in any shape or form is backfiring on them big time.
I'm sure the NX will be snapped up by the Nintendo fan-boys and fan-girls out there when it launches in March, and if you're reading this and are genuinely excited for the NX, then good on you. I'm glad you can find something to look forward to that I can't. But, as the Wii U proved, Nintendo can't rely on that core fan-base to bail them out.
You want to know why the Wii did so well and lasted so long? Because it wasn't just the die-hards that wanted it so they could play Super Mario Galaxy. It was because everyone else also wanted it. Little boys and girls wanted it because it could make them feel like a bad-ass samurai or an expert tennis player. Mums and dads that had never touched a video game in their lives wanted it. Third-party developers wanted to make games for it. Sony and Microsoft wanted it to the point where they came up with their own alternatives to the motion-sensing controller craze that the Wii Remote started.
As it stands, the only people that want the NX want it because of brand loyalty; because they believe in it and the company. But Nintendo has yet to convince the rest of the world, and with only six months to go and still no sign of new info, it may be too late to win us over.