Nintendo NX survey hints at possible directions for the console

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Rumours about the Nintendo NX, their follow up to the Wii U, have been flying around for the past year or so; such as the possibility the system will be some kind of hybrid between a home console and a portable one. The official word from Nintendo’s president, Tatsumi Kimishima, is that details on the NX will be coming later in 2016, but a recently uncovered market research survey may shed some light on design ideas the company has been considering.

The survey from market research company GFK, an alleged client of Nintendo’s, surfaced on Twitter when user Liam Robertson posted a screenshot from it containing a list of features for the NX.

Many took this initial picture to be an official breakdown of the Nintendo NX and immediately lamented the idea of it running games at 900p (1600×900 pixels) instead of 1080p (Full HD). But once more images surfaced from the survey asking participants how they felt about certain features, it was clear nothing was yet set in stone.

Twitter user Emily Rogers posted images showing questions about paid online services similar to Xbox Live/PS Plus along with comparisons between hypothetical NX configurations and price points to other consoles and asking which ones were more appealing.

While the “grain of salt” approach should be taken here as this survey in no way indicates the conclusive direction the NX will go in, it is interesting to see such a digital focus from Nintendo.

The idea of a cheaper system without a disc drive, thereby relying solely on digital game sales, seems to be key to their questioning. Here’s hoping they surveyed demographics in many different countries, as internet speeds differ quite wildly between regions and that would certainly influence peoples’ answers. We here in Australia have much lower on-average download speed than the US or UK, so installation from disc is vastly more convenient than a download.

But more downloads require more space, and these hardware configurations seem to indicate Nintendo might be ready to upgrade into decent internal storage. The Wii U features very little when it comes to hard drive space, only packing a small 32GB, but the hypothetical storage options ranging from 500GB to 2TB suggest that Nintendo might be getting ready to jump headlong into digital distribution.

A greater focus on their online multiplayer is less surprising given the success of Splatoon, often regarded as the shooter of 2015. The idea of having users pay a subscription for it is even less surprising, that’s just the done thing now it seems.

If squid-ing along through paint is wrong, I don’t want to be right. (Source: Splatoon)

Without seeing the results of the survey little can be said regarding where the market is leaning or what Nintendo might do with the information. But to see Nintendo considering options similar to what Playstation and Xbox have been doing (more online focus, sharing gameplay/achievements, larger hard drives etc) paints a very interesting picture for gaming’s future.

Nintendo systems have always seemed to be separate to Playstation and Xbox, the latter two always competing against one another while the former holds its own demographic, fans and of course Mario and Zelda. If the Nintendo NX hangs on to all of that but also moves in on Playstation/Xbox territory? That would certainly make for exciting times.

You can survey Tom on Twitter: @tomdheath. Don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.

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