Nintendo is known for doing things differently than its competitors. The company has pretty much always been this way, but has taken it to an even greater degree over the past few years. While many gamers have expressed a strong desire to see Nintendo make a ‘normal console’ when it comes to the NX, the few times that Nintendo actually has talked about the system gives the impression that innovation is still actively being taken into account. The question is, is it okay for the company to keep trying to make its systems ‘special’?
In the past, Nintendo strove for innovation in relatively simple ways; it primarily dealt with small additions made to the controllers of its consoles. The added buttons on the SNES controller, the Rumble Pack for the N64’s controller, and the Wavebird wireless controller for the GameCube. When it came to these innovations, there weren’t a lot of complaints. That’s most likely due to the fact that they were viewed as being practical, relatively minor steps forward. That all changed at the dawn of the 7th generation.
With the DS and Wii, Nintendo decided to go in a completely different direction from the ‘traditional’ route. Instead of simply focusing on producing more powerful and versatile hardware, like its competitors, Nintendo instead opted to attract new customers with unorthodox designs. Obviously this worked, because both systems are some of the highest selling consoles of all time and Nintendo’s most successful machines to date. It’s no wonder why they tried a similar strategy with the 3DS and Wii U. Unfortunately, the special features of both these systems has pretty much been an Achilles’ Heel. This is what has led to many gamers crying out for the company to simply make a traditional system when it comes to the NX.
Sony and Microsoft have kept things relatively simple with PlayStation and Xbox. While both sets of systems have made special impacts in the gaming industry over the years, their designs have remained consistent from the very beginning, straight up until now; simply, more powerful hardware in a sleeker box. Seeing that both sides have enjoyed a relative amount of success, one can argue that if Nintendo were to go ahead and do the same thing, it would work out. Right?
Both the PlayStation and Xbox families have only made minor changes over the years, yet have yielded massive levels of success.
While its definitely true that this relatively straight-forward strategy has worked out for Nintendo’s rivals, it’s not an absolute guarantee that it will be the same for the Big N. The only thing that currently separates the PS4 and Xbox One, aside from a relatively small difference in hardware capabilities, is exclusive content. Take away the exclusives from both systems, and you’ll be left with a near identical pair of libraries. PlayStation and Xbox have already established a solid market. It would be incredibly for Nintendo to try and pierce that with a ‘me too’ system. The Xbox One is already having a hard time weathering the massive storm that is the PS4, so how would Nintendo fare?
While many are crying out for the NX to be a normal system, Nintendo basically needs the system to have some special feature in order to attract attention. Yes, that didn’t completely work with the 3DS and Wii U, but that doesn’t make this strategy inefficient. Both of those systems stumbled not because they had unique features, but because those features created an unattractive image. Both sets of special technology ended up inflating the price of the system, which turned many folks away.
When it comes to the NX, Nintendo can take either one of two approaches: the system’s special feature needs to be so great that everyone will be drawn to it, or, Nintendo starts giving consumers choices. If the NX’s special feature is unique yet practical, then there’s a good chance that most folks will want to pick it up. The issue with this is that it’s incredibly difficult to appeal to ‘everyone’, so this approach is a little bit on the hopeful side. The most realistic option is definitely giving consumers the power of choice. Nintendo is actually using this method right now—the 2DS and 3DS.
Unless the NX’s special feature is the new greatest thing since sliced bread, consumers should have the option to buy the system either with or without it.
The 2DS has always been marketed as the simplest, most affordable way to gain access to the 3DS’ library. In order to achieve this, Nintendo made cuts where necessary, including the elimination of 3D. Even with the improved 3D features of the New 3DS and New 3DS XL, Nintendo has still been actively pushing the 2DS. Perhaps this exact same strategy could be tried with the NX? If Nintendo offers two different versions of the system, then nobody would have any reason to complain. For those that want the ‘full experience’, they can by the ‘NX Special Edition’. If someone just wants a straightforward, ‘no gimmicks’ system, then the basic NX would be there to suit their needs.
People always appreciate the power to choose exactly what they want. The small innovations that Nintendo made with its past systems weren’t intrusive enough to warrant there being alternate versions, but the company’s last four systems have all had a special feature that was basically forced upon the consumers. Whatever the special idea behind the NX is, unless it’s truly the next pillar of gaming, then it would be best if Nintendo left its customers to choose what they want. Considering the fact that the system is already in a tough position due to the hype surrounding its competition, Nintendo needs to hit all the right notes when the NX is finally revealed. Innovation is nice, but if the people want basic, give them basic.