By Neil Merrett
Successor to Wii U is given a formal launch schedule as company looks to commit to strong line-up; press question low key investment briefing strategy
Long suspected to be coming, yet now finally confirmed. Nintendo this week announced that its rumoured new console, codenamed ‘NX’, is on its way next year along with the very delayed new Legend of Zelda title that aims to be the largest ever open world adventure for the popular dude in the green hat.
In an age of booze soaked corporate launches at E3, same might say it was bold of Nintendo to announce these details in a fairly standard investor statement to mark its end of financial year results, the news didn’t even merit a picture from the company.
“Nintendo previously announced that it would release more information about its next system, code-named NX, this year. As the first announcement of any NX information, Nintendo confirmed that NX is scheduled to launch in March 2017. NX will not make an appearance at the upcoming E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles in June and will be unveiled later this year,” said the company.
The Legend of Zelda was also announced to launch at the same time on both the company’s NX and maligned Wii U home consoles.
Yet not everyone welcomed the company’s introduction to an entirely new console – perhaps out of anticipation for some more concrete details.
“There is no good way to spin Nintendo’s mystifying NX And Zelda news,” wrote Paul Tassi for Forbes.
Tassi argued that the use of a handful of tweets, an investor note and a public statement, was not the good news that the company’s fans would assume.
“According to Nintendo’s financial earnings report, their next console, the NX, will be released in March 2017, outside the traditional holiday window. The Legend of “Zelda on Wii U has been delayed out of 2016 to 2017 (after being delayed out of 2015 to 2016) and is no longer just a Wii U title,” he said. “As many suspected, it will indeed go cross-platform, and be released for the NX as well, more or less as a launch title, if these dates hold.”
Gamespot meanwhile noted that Nintendo had pledged not to rush its next console, while also ruling out selling the new system at a loss.
Citing a English language translation of a Q&A with Nintendo chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima, Eddie Makuch wrote that the company would be avoiding the somewhat common strategy of selling new hardware at a loss, as with Wii U, when it tried to recuperate funds through games and accessories.
“We are not thinking of launching the hardware at a loss,” Kimishima was quoted as saying .
“When Wii U was launched, the yen was very strong. I am assuming that situation will not repeat itself. Selling at a loss at launch would not support the business, so we are keeping that mind in developing NX.”
The chief exec also told investors that in setting its launch date, the amount of quality software made available was an important factor in scheduling a major system release.
IDigitalTimes appeared to be more prosaic in its coverage, noting that Nintendo was committing itself to a strong launhh release rather than aiming for pre-Christmas demand.
The publication claimed that with a “weak” launch line-up of games proving fatal to the wider success of the Wii U, the company was looking to show it had learnt lessons for its last big system launch.
“If what Kimishima says is true, then Nintendo may not be in such trouble after all. If the system really does have a strong launch lineup, and a strong ramp-up after that, along with a respectable amount of third-party support, Nintendo may still be able to make the Nintendo NX into a success. Let’s just hope that new hardware from Sony and Microsoft isn’t too compelling,” said the article.
As is common with the internet, speculation will likely only ramp up in the absence of clearer details.