There’s a lot to be excited about in the Nintendo camp these days. Rumors are running rampant about Nintendo’s next big home console, and it’s hard not to draw comparisons between now and back in 2004 when we first got wind of “Revolution”.
In fact, we were all asking a lot of the same questions back then: What will the controller look like? Will it be high definition? Will Nintendo go after online this time? Will there be a built in hard drive? What is the revolution about it?
Six years later and all of those questions are still surprisingly relevant. On one side of things, it is pretty spectacular that Nintendo can constantly leave its fan base wondering what they are going to do next to revolutionize the market. Nintendo has crafted this legacy for themselves that puts them in the shoes of industry pioneers, which is an honorary place to be. On the other side of the coin, however, it’s a little disheartening that graphic quality, online capabilities and storage space have been a concern to many fans this whole time.
Despite the Wii’s enormous success around the world, it is hard to deny the fact that Nintendo has lost a large chunk of the “hardcore” market. Franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, even the EA Sports games, constantly outsell and outperform the majority of Wii’s library, especially when it comes to third party products.
All is not lost, however. There are a number of things that Nintendo can do to change this and regain the type of third party support and success that Sony and Microsoft see every year. First, let’s take a look at what we know about the next Nintendo home console.
What We Know:
There have been a lot of rumors circulating, and it’s not always easy to distinguish between what’s real and some fanboy’s fantasy. So here we’re only going to include confirmed details or rumors that are so widespread and agreed upon, that they are nearly confirmed to be fact.
First up is the controller. Once again, Nintendo has managed to make the console’s input device its most talked about feature. The most popular rumor and one that seems to be all but confirmed, is the fact that the controller will feature a roughly six inch touch screen in the middle that will allow interaction with games, but also allow the user to play their console games solely on the controller with some sort of streaming function. The possibilities here are considerable and it certainly seems to have the same appeal that the Wii remote did, in terms of allowing developers to come up with creative ways for gamers to experience their titles. I’m sure Nintendo has already cooked up a unique Mario, Zelda or Metroid experience to showcase just how it could work.
We now also have confirmation through an official Nintendo report that the company will definitely showcase the new console at E3 on June 7th – the report states that the machine will be playable, but whether that means playable by Nintendo staff demoing it on stage, or playable by attendees on the show floor, remains to be seen.
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s one more reason to be excited about Nintendo’s E3 2011 goody bag. Nintendo has also stated it does not plan to release Project Café this year and that we can expect it after March 2012. Our best guess is a holiday 2012 release – Nintendo is unlikely to want to miss the holiday rush.
That about wraps up what we know definitively. Everything else is hearsay or unconfirmed – including the possible meaning of the console’s code name, Project Café.
Whereas Project Revolution gave us all a glimpse into what to expect from Nintendo’s next endeavor, that being a revolutionary new way to play games, Project Café is much more cryptic. Speculation is about all we have in regards to the name, but it is possible that it ties into a constantly connected experience. Many modern day cafés offer customers complimentary wi-fi that allows them to be constantly connected with their devices. After seeing the direction Nintendo took with the 3DS and its Street Pass and Spot Pass functions, it’s quite possible that these types of features will be a selling point.
There are rumblings about the name being “Nintendo Stream”, about high profile third parties like Rockstar being on board, and the cost being between $350 and $400, but it is all speculation at this point. We should get many more questions answered in June.
But for us, the big question is: What does Nintendo have to do to recapture the hardcore market, next generation? Well, we’ve compiled a list to try and answer that. This is coming from someone who waited in line at 4:00am in frigid weather to secure my Wii console in 2006, only to have that same Wii console collect dust underneath the television in 2011. Sure, I will brush it off every so often for a decent release (most recently Donkey Kong Country Returns), but it has come far too close to resembling a paper weight over the last year or two and it’s important to look at how that can be avoided in 2012 and beyond.