As the console video game industry continues through an an era of upheaval that's already seen Microsoft make a bid for cross-platform play, Sony launch a new Playstation well ahead of traditional schedules and longtime developers branching out for surprising multimedia deals, eyes increasingly turn toward Nintendo and their mysterious NX hardware as a potential hope to reinvigorate and market rendered uneasy by changing consumer tastes. Which is why many were both surprised and dismayed to learn that the unit would be skipping this year's upcoming E3 convention and launching in early 2017 rather than the 2016 holiday season, as had been rumored.
Now, a new rumor claims to know why production of the top-secret console was delayed - and what form gamers can expect it to take when it arrives.
The rumor, as reported by DIGITimes, claims to be based on information from China-based electronics manufacturer Foxxcon (a.k.a. Hon Hai Precision Industry), which is slated to be one of the main fabricators of NX units and component parts. According to DIGITimes, NX mass-production was scheduled to begin in mid-2016 but was delayed until early 2017 - along with a shift in production order from over 20 million units to a more conservative 9-1o million. The rationale alleged to have been offered is as follows:
"Nintendo wished to enhance the game console's video-game/handheld-game-integrated gaming experience and add virtual reality (VR) function into the system to gain advantages in the upcoming video game and mobile game competitions."
If this rumor were to prove correct, it would mark a significant change in corporate behavior from Nintendo, who have traditionally avoided following trends set by the broader industry and especially rival console makers. It also raises new questions about the as-yet-unknown processing power level of the NX itself: Both Sony and Microsoft (supposedly) have dedicated VR platforms in development for their respective consoles, and the electronic muscle required to make VR perform as designed is believed to be one of the main reasons why both the Playstation and Xbox brands are being upgraded significantly ahead of the "normal" console schedule.
Of greater interest to gamers in the immediate present, however, could be DIGITimes' casual mention of supposedly "known" design specifications for the NX unit itself, which (if correct) could well be the first solid idea of what the mysterious device actually is. For over a year, speculation has coalesced around the idea of the NX as a console/handheld "hybrid" device that would replace not only the Wii U as Nintendo's main TV-integrated gaming hardware but also the DS product line by doubling as a handheld. Now, DIGITimes' rumors would appear to back up that speculation, describing the NX thusly:
"The sources pointed out that the Nintendo NX combines the video gaming experience with the mobile gaming experience. The device features a 5- to 7-inch display, controller and joystick for users to play as a mobile gaming product, but it is also able to connect to a TV for users to play as a video game system."
It's unlikely that this latest batch of rumors will inspire any further revelations or official confirmation from Nintendo itself, as the company is famously private about its plans. Officially, the Japanese gaming giant is currently focused on the debut of the new Legend of Zelda title at E3 and its recent foray into producing feature films based on its game franchises.
Screen Rant will have more updates for you on the Nintendo NX as they are made available.