Mar 25 2016

The State of the NX (Release Timing) – March 2016

We have all been speculating about the NX and what it will be. To be honest, I am not sure what the console itself will be. But, for this edition of “The State of the NX” (it’s the first edition, fancy that), I’d like to focus on the timing of the NX’s release. At this point, despite there still being no information about it, I think Nintendo will still get it out this year. With only Zelda Wii U on the horizon, I think it makes more sense for them to get the NX out sooner than later. This is especially so if we are to take Nintendo at their word; they stated the NX will not be a full-blown successor to the Wii U.

That part is something that everyone seems to ignore. I want to believe Nintendo when they say things like that. This leads to some interesting ideas about the timing of Nintendo’s actual next console. Nintendo will want to be able to match the competition with its next console, and it’s not uncommon for companies to release their next console one year after competitors. This was true of the fourth generation, where the PS2 came out in 2000 and Nintendo’s Gamecube and Microsoft’s Xbox a year later in 2001. This happened again when Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in 2005, with Nintendo and Sony coming in 2006 with their successors. And yet again, it happaned with Nintendo releasing the Wii U in 2012 while Microsoft and Sony waited until 2013 for their current-gen consoles. When you look at it, all of the companies have actually taken turns as to who has released their consoles first. While it’s easy to make comparisons to Sega, I don’t see Nintendo going the way of Sega. The NX will not be the Dreamcast.

But today, I’m not speculating about console details. I’m talking about the timing of the NX. With consoles being released one year apart from each other in mind, let’s consider the NX. Again, I have to believe this is not Nintendo’s next full-blown console. So, it’s not. It gets released this year. That gives the Wii U a 4-year cycle, and while that’s short, Nintendo probably needs to keep it as such. And hey, since the NX is not succeeding the Wii U, we should continue to expect games for the Wii U anyways. But where I’m going with this is this-Nintendo’s next ‘actual’ console will be released in 2020, giving the NX a 4-year cycle. It’s not such a stretch to think that they’ll give the NX a 4-year cycle considering that the Game Boy Advance (GBA), the first actual successor to the Game Boy over 10 years after its initial release, was only out for three years until the DS was released. And while GBA games continued for years after that, the DS really picked up steam in 2006, and we stopped seeing GBA games much after that.

I want people to really understand this. In North America, the Game Boy was released in July of 1989. Its successor was the Game Boy Advance, and that was released in June of 2001. That is nearly 12 years apart. Nintendo was able to keep it going due to an excellent lineup of games year after year. However, there’s another thing that helped it along and that was the Game Boy Color (GBC), released in 1998. Many games worked with both the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color. There were some games that were also only for the GBC, like Pokemon Crystal. This is akin to Nintendo’s New 3DS, where it will play all 3DS games and there are some games that require this new system, like Xenoblade Chronicles. Nintendo has been comfortable releasing semi-successors to its portable consoles for years now (and let’s not forget the Nintendo DSi).

With all of this in mind, I think the most likely thing for Nintendo to do is make the NX that semi-successor to the Wii U. It will be released thie year. Then, the actual successor to the Wii U will be released in 2020. If a 6-year life cycle for the PS4 and Xbox One is to be believed, then we should have the PS5 and Xbox Two in 2019. Nintendo will come out with its successor a year later in 2020, and this gives them time to make a console that will have comparative specs to its competition with a good price because the price of manufacturing will have gone down a year later. The biggest problem with the Wii U was that it was only better than the PS3 and Xbox 360. Those consoles were succeeded only one year later. The Wii U was quickly eclipsed by the PS4 and Xbox One. That was probably Nintendo’s biggest downfall.

To close the post, here’s a nice little summation of everything in a year-by-year format:

1989 (Nintendo): Game Boy is released
1998 (Nintendo): Game Boy Color is released
2000 (Sony): The PS2 is released
2001 (Microsoft): The Xbox is released
2001 (Nintendo): The Game Boy Advance is released
2001 (Nintendo): The Gamecube is released
2004 (Nintendo): The DS is released
2005 (Microsoft): The Xbox 360 is released
2006 (Sony): The PS3 is released
2006 (Nintendo): The Wii is released
2010 (Nintendo): The DSi is released
2011 (Nintendo): The 3DS is released
2012 (Nintendo): The Wii U is released
2013 (Microsoft): The Xbox One is released
2013 (Sony): The PS4 is released
2015 (Nintendo): The New 3DS is released
2016 (Nintendo): The NX will be released
2019: Microsoft and Sony will release their next consoles
2020: Nintendo will release its next console