While we await further, conclusive news surrounding the mysterious NX I have been thinking about the NX and what it needs to do to stand out to consumers and most importantly for Nintendo, be successful.
You may have seen the recent speculation regarding the NX; that it's going to be a handheld console that can be "mounted onto" a tv docking station with detachable controllers. Whether this speculation turns out to be true we will have to wait and see, but it seems there is a degree of weight behind these recent rumours.
The NX could represent Nintendos last foray into the console market, if it doesn't perform well. While it is unlikely this would be the case, if the NX were to perform poorly, similar to that of the performance of the Wii U, then serious questions would emerge about Nintendos involvement in the market. As a long serving Nintendo fan, this worries me and I really hope Nintendo have learnt from experience and maybe, just maybe heed my "wise" words of advice.
The NX needs to be strongly & clearly marketed
Nintendo were arguably a bit naive when it came to the release of the Wii U; believing the Wii's success and sales would transfer over to the Wii U. What Nintendo obviously failed to grasp was that many Wii owners were everyday folk, not knowledgeable gamers. Coupling this apparent misunderstanding of the majority of the user base with the fact that the Wii had become ignored and somewhat forgotten by a number of adopters in its later years, after the excitement and curiosity surrounding the Wii had worn off, meant Nintendo overestimated their worth and prominence amongst consumers and thus did not market the Wii U very well... if at all.
Compared to the media fanfare the Wii received, the Wii U, had in comparison, received a mere whimper of frenzy when it released. Nintendo seemed to think that consumers would immediately recognise what the Wii U was, why it is why unique and why it was worthy of purchase. Unfortunately Nintendo's lack of communication to consumers about what the Wii U was and why it was different led to its downfall. Those not technologically savvy or up to date with gaming news and events were left confused about the Wii U and what it did. However those that did understand its basic concept still were not convinced of the Wii U's unique selling features and unlike the Wii, Nintendo did not market these features very strongly and effectively.
The NX needs to be different
I occasionally hear the notion that Nintendo need to make a console that's really powerful and that has all the latest games such as COD. Well I have to disagree and in this current climate with already two well established consoles out in the market; the PS4 and Xbox One, bringing something out that is remarkably similar to those machines would be suicide. The NX still needs to have some beef underneath it's bonnet but power won't be what makes it succeed or fail. There isn't really room for another copycat and therefore the NX needs to be different and I'm sure it will, but it needs to be excitingly different yet still offer traditional experiences for those that want them.
The Wii was such a success because it introduce a new, intriguing way of playing games. Though this fascination eventually faded it just shows that consumers are open to new things. The NX, whatever it maybe, needs to tap into that curiosity amongst people and then evolve it to another, sustainable level. No mean feat, but if the NX can offer something remarkably different to the PS4 and Xbox One, one that can excite a diverse, large range of people, then it has chance.
Nintendo needs to be fully committed to the NX
Nintendo has never been afraid to change or innovate. Whether it is with their hardware or software, there is always this expectancy for Nintendo to mix things up every know and then. While other console manufacturers can rely on following the norm, Nintendo often has to adapt to survive and remain profitable, which seems unfair but unfortunately that is the position they are in.
Both the Wii & Wii U marked a different approach to playing games. While Nintendo did develop their motion controls for the Wii and tried to make them integral to their experiences, I always felt they could have done more, although compared to the numerous third party waggle-a-thons I guess Nintendo did ok. With the Wii U though Nintendo never seemed to make the tablet controller a necessary piece of equipment. Often it seemed a standard controller was much more preferable for stand out games such as Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Even Star Fox Zero, which was developed to utilise the tablet, divided opinion, with many taking a while to adapt to the control scheme and even when they did, still feeling it wasn't quite right.
The lack of software on the Wii U did not help matters when it came to utilising the gamepad but Nintendo never seemed to justify the unique controller through its own games and if they didn't do it how can they expect others to utilise it and how can they expect consumers to understand and want such a device? Nintendo aren't scared to do and make things differently but at times they seem reluctant to fully back their ideas. They can't do this with the NX, everyone involved at Nintendo needs to be heavily invested and involved with the NX for it to be successful.
Nintendo needs more Third Party support
The Wii U was largely abandoned by other developers and suffered from lengthy droughts in software output, especially in the consoles' early years. This no doubt had an affect of the Wii U's performance and Nintendo has always seemed to struggle with third party support but the Wii U brought a whole new level to such issue. Between the quality first party offerings on the Wii U there was largely nothing for owners of the system to get excited about and the Wii U's visual presence in shops was often laughable with usually only a small selection of games to choose from that rarely seemed to change.
It's crucial Nintendo get third party developers on board for the NX. A great console is only a great console if it has a wealth of games available to players and essentially the more games available on a console the more attractive proposition it becomes to consumers. Early signs of third party support seem positive with the CEO of Ubisoft recently praising the console but until release schedules start to form and announcements made, we will have to wait to see how well the NX will be supported.
The NX needs the right support
While third party support will be relatively crucial in trying to attract customers I personally believe the NX needs to have unique third party offerings and not just offer the same experiences that are already available or being released on the PS4 & Xbox One. Both those consoles have established user bases and regular Joe is probably not going to get an NX to play Call of Duty: Never-ending Warfare if they already have a PS4/Xbox One. No Nintendo is going to have to attract these developers and publishers to want to make different experiences, ones that will utilise the technology and whatever unique features the console has at its disposal.
For that to happen Nintendo are going to have to pull out all the stops to market the NX to developers and make the console attractive to those involved with making games. One thing I would like to see is Nintendo collaborate on more crossovers; encouraging other developers to use Nintendo's characters, ideas, etc in other games. They have done it before, giving the Dynasty Warriors series a fresh, Hylian twist (i.e. Hyrule Warriors) so why not keep doing it? One collaboration I would love to see is Mario Kart meeting Rocket League (inspired by this pixelated video) Now who wouldn't want to play that?
The NX needs to perform well to keep Nintendo relevant and arguably more importantly profitable. While it's unlikely to match the PS4's level of success if it could better the Wii U's sales by at least 50% (hopefully more) then it will be a step in the right direction for Nintendo and show that they can still deliver products people want.
Over to you guys and girls now, what do you think the NX/Nintendo need to do? Do you see the NX being successful or will it be another Wii U-esque failure? All thoughts, comments and more below. Thanks for reading, until next time have fun and play games. (You can also see more of my ramblings at The Gaming Bear)