Nintendo Patents Console Without Optical Drive

Nintendo's next console seems like it won't support any disc based games

Nintendo has patented a home console that does not contain an optical disc drive. All things considered, this likely means the mysterious Nintendo NX will be a digital only console.

To further clarify, the Wii U, along with every other console since the PS1, has an optical disc drive, which is a fancy term for the place where the disc is inserted and read. All of this means that the next Nintendo console, currently codenamed NX, is very likely to be a digital game only console and not support physical discs. It will however have slots for storage, i.e. USB's or hard drives. You can check out the patent below.

While this may not be that surprising, considering the industry has been heading to an all-digital future for quite some time now, (Microsoft almost removed the optical drive from the Xbox One), it is surprising that Nintendo are the first to take the leap. The reason I say that is because the Nintendo eShop has never been the easiest or most reliable platform for buying games. Furthermore Nintendo's consoles do not have large internal hard drives, the Wii U sports a pretty tiny 8GB with a premium version extending to 32GB. If this system were indeed to be digital only it would need a serious upgrade in storage.

Perhaps more interesting than the lack of an optical disc drive is that the controller will seemingly have a "display unity", much like the Wii U GamePad. This was revealed in another image from the patent. However, that doesn't necessarily mean another tablet style controller, it could be the controller/handheld that many have assumed the next console would have. Check out the patent below.

It was recently rumored that Nintendo would be revealing and releasing the NX next year, which means we don't have too long left to wonder what exactly it is. Until then you can check out all of our coverage on the upcoming Super Mario Maker. But If you're hungry for more NX, check out our best guesses at what the system could be.

Are you OK with there being no optical drive? What do you think the controller might be? Let us know in the comments below!


Published Aug. 21st 2015
  • Kye S.
    I'm hoping that it might actually be a return to some form of cartridge-based media, like storing games on SD cards, rather than abandoning physical media altogether.

    Nintendo has always been the most reluctant to abandon cartridges, with the N64 being released after the PS1 AND the Xbox (yes, author, you were wrong about one thing in your article) and the handhelds never using disks like the PSP.

    There are inherent advantages to the cartridge-based media, as well, such as integrated storage for saves and faster loading times as well as, in my opinion, being far more resilient than disks, which are easy to scratch and break. Even the Xbox 360 was plagued with a cannibalistic disk drive, and the PS3 drive was prone to breaking. I've heard a few cases of them literally exploding into pieces.

    Flash memory has gotten far cheaper and far, far bigger over the years than it was in the past, though it is still more expensive. Is this a case of Nintendo surprising us with a smart, innovative decision, or are they going to suffer due to lack of third party support because of the high cost of the storage media, just like the otherwise surprisingly powerful N64?

    Or is it going to be a digital only console, much to the dismay of thousands of gamers with limited internet everywhere? I certainly hope not. But we never know. And it's not entirely surprising if they do, as Nintendo has had a long history of gaming firsts, both good and bad.
  • Curtis Dillon
    hey, I meant to reply to this sooner but I forgot. What exactly did I get wrong? It seems like you meant the Xbox came out after the N64, which is obviously not the case.
  • Kye S.
    You said in your article that every console since the PS1 has used an optical disk drive. That is not the case, as the N64 was the last 5th generation console released, after the PlayStation.

    Also both of us screwed up in our comments. Your comment, ironically, supported my erroneous statement of the Xbox being released after the N64, which was released 5 years earlier.

    The PlayStation, however, was released first, as I stated, which still leads back to you having been wrong in the article.

    Oddly enough, I read your other article that you linked in this one, and you did not make the same mistake there and, on the contrary, if I recall correctly, actually pointed it out.

    Edit: Looking again, it looks like you had pointed out the strange decision, but did not, in fact, note the timing.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    We're talking about the same company who launched the Wii-U with eight gigabytes worth (or less, after OS install) of harddrive space?
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Maybe this time around they're planning on making a dedicated drive for games? I have no idea what this console would look like... maybe a giant ssd?

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