Wall Street Journal: Nintendo Begins Shipping NX Development Kits to Third Parties, Hybrid of Console and Portable

StarFox Wii U E3 2014

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that development kits for Nintendo’s NX have begun being issued to third parties (full story requires subscription). Sources “close to the matter” are reported as citing the NX being prepared for a 2016 launch, with soft Wii U and 3DS sales given as the reason. The design of the NX is shrouded in mystery, but it may consist of a console unit for home use and a portable unit that can be used outside the home.

The NX is also said to use “industry-leading chips” in response to developer criticisms of the Wii U’s lower power compared to its competitors.

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.

Later on Twitter, the writer who broke the Wall Street Journal story clarified that the NX is “likely to have two or more devices”, will come with powerful chips, and will indeed launch by the end of 2016. The NX “platform” appears to be a hybrid that combines console and traditional handheld strategies.

In a statement, Nintendo told Kotaku that the company will formally discuss the NX sometime in 2016.  The NX was first announced in March during the company’s announcement of their mobile initiative with DeNA. It is planned to be a new pillar of Nintendo’s business alongside the Wii U and 3DS.

Coincidentally, Nintendo also unveiled a revamped Nintendo Developer Portal website today. The site is designed to streamline the workflow for third party developers, from concept to publish with sections for each. It also incorporates the NDI Client, in which developers can create a Nintendo Development ID to clarify their goals and initiatives. This new site could indicate the direction Nintendo is planning for the NX’s future.

If the NX indeed proves to have a platform of console and portable devices, this would line up with many past rumors. Nintendo has previously announced that their internal teams that handle console and portable development have been merged. Satoru Iwata also mentioned that future Nintendo systems would operate more akin to iOS, in which games are scaleable across screen sizes and devices. This would be a measure to reduce porting issues between platforms.

Back in July, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest XI would be coming to NX in addition to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS. While they later clarified that this was only under consideration, the initial announcement indicated that NX development kits began distribution to select development partners as early as the summer. At E3 this June, Nintendo allegedly pitched the NX to third parties, where the reception was overall positive.

Whatever happens in the future, the NX is bound to be a revolution in the way Nintendo presents their hardware.

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A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.