Nintendo NX Dev Kits Sent Out, Hints At Console/Handheld Hybrid And 2016 Release

News of the Nintendo’s next console, the Nintendo NX, has been eagerly awaited by the gaming industry as sales of the Wii U lag and the Nintendo 3DS slow. A new report Friday reveals the company has begun distributing software development kits for the new platform with the implication of a 2016 release. Additionally, more reports on the NX setup also suggest a hybrid approach.

The report that the software development kit has been sent to game developers comes from sources with the Wall Street Journal. This kit is necessary for developers to bring their titles to a console and it is vital for hardware makers to get this into the hands of developers as soon as possible to ensure games are available at launch.

Square Enix is presumably one of those developers as it has already announced Dragon Quest XI as a possible launch title for the Nintendo NX. Meanwhile, industry watchers are keeping an eye out on what is happening with the next The Legend of Zelda title. It was originally announced as a Wii U game, but a delay announcement earlier this year suggests Nintendo may be holding it back for its next console.

Nintendo DeNA Service

Nintendo suppliers are already gearing up for production of the Nintendo NX, as was reported by the Inquisitr in July. The release target at the time was said to be July, 2016, though that is always open for change and a summer release is not always ideal in the gaming industry. Prior to that, the company announced a partnership with DeNA to develop the a unified online gaming system across devices. Still, the news of the software development kit being sent out points to the end of the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS coming soon rather than later.

“We are increasingly of the idea that Nintendo might launch the NX in 2016 because of the softness of 3DS and Wii U,” said David Gibson, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities in the WSJ report.

The Wii U never took off anywhere in the world, with Nintendo actually suspending production of the console at one point. It’s produced some fantastic titles such as Mario Maker and Super Smash Bros. more recently, but sales of the console have been dismal thanks to a confusing launch, lack of third party support, and large gaps between releases.

Meanwhile, the Nintendo 3DS appears to be on its last legs as well. The handheld has never been able meet the sales figures of its predecessor and the release of the New Nintendo 3DS has given only a slight bump to sales.

So if Nintendo does release the NX platform next year, what might it look like? The WSJ sources suggest a hybrid device that can serve as a home console with “at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use.”

This fits with previous rumors surrounding the Nintendo NX along with the company’s propensity to do something different than competitors like the PlayStation and Xbox. That’s been a hit or miss proposition for the company as the Wii and Nintendo DS printed money for the company. Meanwhile, the Wii U and Nintendo 3Ds have had their struggles.

A hybrid platform that brings the best elements of home consoles and mobile gaming is interesting and could provide enough of a differentiator between the Nintendo NX and the PlayStation and Xbox consoles. The deciding factors will likely be the cost of the console and how much power it packs. There’s no exact word, but the Wall Street Journal‘s sources state that “industry-leading chips” will be placed “in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U’s capabilities didn’t match those of competitors.”

Possible Nintendo NX Controller Patent Diagram

More details about the Nintendo NX are sure to come out over the course of the next year before the official announcement is made at E3 in June 2016. A recent patent discovery has already started rumors that the console will not have a disk drive, suggesting it will be a digital download only console. How that will work out with retailers is up for debate.

[Images courtesy Christian Peterson via Getty Images, Nintendo, U.S. Patent Office]