When the books are written on the eighth generation of consoles, the Nintendo Wii U will be recorded as having been firmly in last place. The Xbox One is a fair clip ahead of the Wii U in terms of sales, and the head of the Xbox One team recently admitted that they're not likely to catch up to the PS4 by the time the generation is over - so we can assured the Wii U is no longer in the race. Recent rumors have indicated that Nintendo may try to get out of this jam by releasing the Nintendo NX, their 10th generation console, as early as 2016.
In some ways the eighth generation is just picking up steam, and 2016 is right around the corner. Many Wii U owners are concerned the release of the NX would pull the rug from under the console they already have. Nintendo has not announced an official release date for the NX, and has claimed that it will remain focused on the Wii U - but details have continued to emerge that suggest the rumors of a 2016 Nintendo NX are true.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Nintendo has begun distributing software kits to developers (software kits are what developers use to make ports of already existing games or create new ones), suggesting that 2016 could indeed be the Year of the NX. The WSJ also reported that the NX will probably be a console-handheld hybrid:
The exact shape of the NX hardware isn't yet clear. People familiar with the development plans said Nintendo would likely include both a console and at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use. They also said Nintendo would aim to put industry-leading chips in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U's capabilities didn't match those of competitors.
Considering that Square Enix is developing the next Dragon Quest for both the 3DS and NX, the NX's handheld element will most likely be a device that connects to the NX console - and will be detachable to serve as a mobile unit. A removable handheld device would synergize with the company's avowed plans to create an integrated user experience across all their consoles and other consumer devices (such as smart phones and tablets). The eighth generation is seeing the consoles' first attempts at creating a completely integrated all-in-one entertainment experience, but the ninth-generation NX may be the first to achieve this.
Nintendo's "first out of the gate" strategy for the 10th generation reminds us of the sixth generation's Sega Dreamcast, which slipped in well before the Sony Playstation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube hit the marketplace (and like the NX had a handheld component, the much-ridiculed Visual Memory Unit). The Dreamcast was unable to maintain its head start for many reasons, but the biggest was that it didn't have a killer app at its launch to help it stay ahead of the curve.
The Nintendo NX's state-of-the-art chips, its handheld-console hybrid nature, and its proposed integrated experience sound great, but a killer app or two will be absolutely essential for it to stay out in front. If the software kits are only going out now, it seems unlikely the ultimate Zelda or Mario game will be ready by 2016.
But who knows - maybe ports of Wii U games, the handheld component, and an integrated experience will be enough for the Nintendo NX to stay ahead.
Source: The Wall Street Journal