When Oculus VR began to take to the mainstream gamers as far as streamers, YouTubers, and critics go, I said from day one it would become a popularity contest of who could do it better. Today, we are seeing that as Microsoft, Sony, Bethesda Game Studios, AMD, Nvidia, and even Steam have all jumped onto the VR bandwagon that's going full steam ahead with horns blaring.
Among these companies, however, there's one in particular one that's missing, one that's not sold on VR but instead is cautiously open to it without being overly influenced by it: Nintendo. At E3 2016, Nintendo's Reggie Fil-Aimes stated to Bloomberg that the company doesn't think VR is quite ready for the mainstream yet. After all, the company does have a history with VR — anyone remember its '90s device, Virtual Boy?
In the video, Aimes stated that Nintendo's focus of E3 is all about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While it won multiple awards, it has frustrated many people who wanted to see more about the NX, which has been kept top-secret by Nintendo since its leaked information started back in 2013. With the Wii U becoming a dying platform, the NX has already got a lot of work put in for it, and with Nintendo announcing that it's about more than creating a powerful console — i.e., focusing on content itself rather than technical specifications — it could be in a bit of trouble already.
Reggie openly stated that Nintendo doesn't want a part of the console war:
"Microsoft and Sony can fight it out if they want."
The implication here being that Nintendo's shying away from the age-old battle it formerly reigned supreme in. With VR becoming a big deal, Nintendo's also opted to wait until it goes mainstream before the company even considers it (hopefully improving over its first failed attempt at VR). With Pokémon Go being an augmented-reality game, Nintendo could be preparing for something bigger than its other two competitors.
With the Nintendo NX set for a March 2017 launch window, Nintendo's work is cut out for it. The Wii U is already dying, it has been dying, and it continues to do so due to the lack of video game support. While games such as the newly released Pokén Tournament (which quickly took up a spot as the Tekken of Pokémon), Ninendo's third-party support has been weak, if not outright troubling, for consumers.
If you own a Wii U, you already know the trouble it has. Big-name publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision, and even Ubisoft have opted not to release their heavy hitters on the under-powered platform. Games such as Watch_Dogs, Mass Effect 3, and Batman Arkham City had shown promise on the console. With the companies not having gained as much steam on the platform, it wasn't surprising to see them pull away and place their focus on both Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. But what trouble could this approach lead up to for Nintendo?
A lot, really. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a gorgeous game and highly anticipated, it won't be enough to move Nintendo's upcoming hardware, which could be even more troubling for fans as well as investors. If anything? It's time for Nintendo's focus to shift.
Shifting its focus wouldn't be problematic if Nintendo decided to leap from the sinking ship in its home console department. If you look at the numbers above, you know Nintendo's handheld platform has done great — especially its non-3D platform like the Nintendo DS, which sold the best out of its console department. The Nintendo 3DS followed suit in the next generation, but what if Nintendo took the two and melded them into a singular platform?
As one would expect, there's speculation that the Nintendo NX will be an on-the-go console. This approach of ideology would be wise for Nintendo to take advantage of — after all, the company is a master of handhelds. With taking the handheld approach, Nintendo could easily take on the handheld market and monopolize it, since Sony's PlayStation Vita is dying as we speak.
With Iwata gone, Reggie has the chance to step up, become the next Iwata, and push for innovation; he could push for a handheld market wherein Nintendo could shine and do its own ordeal. With the power of processing chips, such as the SnapDragon CPU's, it'd be interesting to see if Nintendo would step up and use such things. Or maybe the company could even integrate Nvidia's new Integra series, which has been powering Nvidia Shield K1 since the tablet line-up's launch.
The only fall here? Nintendo would have to ditch the idea of having a 3D screen and go for graphical prowess, and it prove it has what it takes to dominate the handheld market. If it does? It'd be interesting to see what direction Nintendo could go. If Nintendo goes this direction? It'd be wonderful to see what the company could do, what direction it will go, and if it will choose to embrace that future with open arms if it takes note of its handheld sales numbers in comparison to its home console numbers.
If the company did, what sort of future would it spell out for us gamers? Would it allow for new mobility and lead developers to new possibilities? Would it cause Nintendo more trouble than its worth to shift its focus? What about third-party support? All those questions will be answered with time if Nintendo goes down this route.