Nintendo isn’t a company that likes to stand still for too long. It has often innovated and promoted the entire industry, for example when it popularized motion control gaming with the Wii and touch-based interfaces with the DS. However, it does not have this desire to experiment always elaborated; the Virtual Boy was a notable failure, while the Wii U effectively wasted the huge audience the company had built with its previous home console.
Fortunately, Nintendo is back on track with the Switch, which has now sold over 92 million units and will most likely overtake the Wii to become the company’s most popular domestic system (although the debate on the subject is still raging – Switch is one Handheld home console? Or just both?). The device’s robust commercial performance has prompted Nintendo to consider an extended lifecycle for the Switch so we could see it remain the company’s sole focus for the next five years.
However, as we all know, it is companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft always is working on new hardware, and in a recent Q&A, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa addressed the matter:
We cannot yet comment on the next game system. We’re thinking a lot of different things about the next game system, but we can’t say anything right now as far as the concept and timing of launch.
The line “we think about a lot of different things” could be possibly are ringing the alarm bells for longtime Nintendo fans as it suggests the company may be rebooting with a completely new approach to its next hardware platform.
Is it bad? Not necessarily. Nintendo’s vision has driven the industry in new and exciting ways as we discussed earlier. Portable video games would have been a lot less interesting if Nintendo had simply followed Sony’s approach with the PSP and developed a “more powerful” Game Boy Advance, while its success during the Wii era was largely due to the opportunity for new ones Technology. Nintendo’s willingness to try new things is something we should be eternally grateful for.
As mentioned earlier, Nintendo’s forays into uncharted territory sometimes don’t work so well; the Wii U was one of the low points in the company’s hardware history; a time that was fortunately made up for by the fact that the 3DS got going around the same time. Sure, one could argue that without the Wii U we might not have had the Switch – an evolution of the “off-TV” concept, one might say – but Nintendo’s trademark ingenuity could cost it success in the modern gaming arena.
Nintendo hasn’t grappled with its hardware competitors in sheer power since the days of the GameCube, and its business model is completely different from that of Sony and Microsoft – both of whom are happy to lose money on hardware from day one for a solid one Build a user base. With this in mind, it might be unwise for Nintendo to create another “pure” home console – unless it is supported by a really innovative control concept, such as the underperforming Wii.
Could Virtual Reality Be Nintendo’s Next Step? It’s often said that Nintendo is the company that can mass-market standalone VR, but it could be argued that the Oculus Quest 2 has already done so. Perhaps the company has another breakthrough control idea in the wings, and the next console could be the platform that will spark a whole new gaming craze.
Or maybe, only maybe, Furukawa’s words are made as non-binding as possible, and Nintendo will stick to the Switch concept for the foreseeable future, transforming the platform into something similar to the iPhone or iPad – a hardware ecosystem that grows in performance and features over time. but maintains software compatibility.
Whichever route Nintendo takes, the next home console is likely to be a key moment in company history – at least if it ever hits the market.
What would you like to see from the next Nintendo system? Let us know with a comment.