The gaming industry has always been an exciting place—rarely is there ever a time of a true silence and serenity. Even so, it’s current state is particularly chaotic.
The current generation, the 8th, began only but a few years ago—nearly four, to be exact. Considering the fact that the average generation lasts about six years the most, early murmurs of new hardware are pretty much unorthodox, at best. Yet, here we are, all three of the console makers seem to be in the process of creating new systems that look to be released within the next few months. Nintendo got the ball rolling last year when the ‘NX’ was first announced. Now, there are many rumors popping up surrounding Sony’s PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’ and Microsoft’s Xbox One ‘Scorpio’.
Nintendo already has quite the bounty over its head due to its questionable actions within the last few years. Now with talks of its competitors coming out with new systems, the question pops up: is the NX being set-up to lose?
Nintendo has done an amazing job at keeping the NX a near-complete secret. We have been bombarded with rumor after rumor for well over a year now, and yet, the console’s true identity remains pretty much a total mystery. After all, we’re still referring to it by it’s codename. With that said, it’s hard to really come up with a solid answer for the above question. Just like the NX, no concrete details are known about the Neo or the Scorpio; we don’t even know if these systems actually exist. A difficult situation, this is. Even so, it’s not inappropriate to speculate.
The gaming industry has been pretty clear about how it views Nintendo—the company is seen as an outsider. Despite the fact that the Big N truly did save gaming, and despite the fact that its IPs are some of the most recognized brands in the world, the level of respect towards Nintendo is very small. Many gamers see Nintendo as an existing relic; out of touch and out of balance with the current state of affairs, yet still a part of it. True, Nintendo has made some very questionable maneuvers over the last few years, but let’s not forget the company’s not so ancient history.
Nintendo was a big force in the 90s. Its franchises were in their prime at that time, and were recognized all over the world. In addition to this, the systems were pretty much on the cutting-edge. In fact, up until the Wii, all of Nintendo’s home systems were either on-par or superior to that of the competition. The Wii and Wii U are the only systems where Nintendo decided to take a more simplified approach. While this strategy worked for the Wii, its novelty wore off, as evidenced by the low and slow sales of the Wii U. So what about the NX? Basically, this marks Nintendo’s chance to return to its days of old—the era of “Now you’re playing with power!”
Despite popular belief, Nintendo is no stranger to creating powerful hardware
Now being led by Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo looks poised to blow everyone’s socks off. The writing is on the wall—if we can see it, the company can too; Nintendo’s home systems are in trouble. Thankfully, President Kimishima’s few, but powerful remarks about the NX paint a very vague, yet exciting picture. He has described it as being a “new concept”, a system that he claims “won’t be sold at a loss”, and one that will be “played for a long period of time”. While those words don’t give us a real image as to what the console is, they do ease the doubt just a bit.
Nintendo must be aware of its current situation. Outside of the Wii, there has been a steady decline in sales of its home consoles since the days of the SNES. Meanwhile, both Sony and Microsoft have continued to grow. Sony’s lowest selling system is the PS3 at 86 million units. Microsoft’s lowest selling system is the original Xbox at 24 million. Nintendo’s lowest selling system is the Wii U at 13 million. That’s quite the contrast; and all the more reason for Nintendo to come out swinging.
When the PS4 and Xbox One launched, they were both pretty tame when compared to past systems. Because consoles are built with the long-term in mind, their components are future-proofed. That’s why developers have comfortably been able to create games on these devices for years on end. Both the PS4 and XBO are powerful, but when the PS3 and 360 launched they were considered bleeding-edge. The Neo and Scorpio may very well be a retaliation to this issue, especially with VR looking to become the next level for gaming (pun intended).
With VR looking to become the next big step for gaming, this may very well be the true purpose of these alleged new systems.
The point is, creating a system that surpasses the PS4 and XBO wouldn’t really be that difficult. The Neo and Scorpio are different beasts, but there’s a catch—we’re running out of room for graphics. Developers have always been trying to push the limits of hardware, and now, we’re pretty much at the level of photo-realism. The biggest issue that consoles are dealing with right now is achieving a high resolution with solid performance—not just simply producing great graphics. The jump from the 7th-8th generation has been much smaller than any generation transition in the past. These alleged upgraded systems won’t give us some insanely higher level of visual fidelity either. This means the NX’s situation, to a degree, may actually be quite safe.
Nintendo’s biggest issue right now is getting the support of third-party developers, which then leads to also getting the support of gamers who aren’t currently Nintendo fans. Considering Nintendo’s history and their current position, it is appropriate to believe that the NX will actually be a competent system, hardware wise. If the company has consulted third-party developers, then the only excuse these teams would have is a low install base. But, there is hope. Kimishima has stated that the reason why the strange release window of March 2017 was chosen was to ensure that the games were ready; that’s exactly what the NX needs to attract buyers.
The PS4 Neo and Xbox One Scorpio definitely present a challenge, but not one that can’t be overcome. If the NX is priced competitively, has killer features and a good selection of titles, then Nintendo could very well be poised to return to its days of old. Of course, only time will tell. We know absolutely nothing about any of these three systems. In addition to this, the high amount of brand recognition that PlayStation and Xbox have, combined with the wealth of titles currently in their libraries will definitely make it difficult for Nintendo to penetrate the market. Even so, one thing is for certain—these next few months are going to be groundbreaking, to say the least.