While The Wall Street Journal is reporting on Nintendo’s upcoming handheld/console, code named “Project NX,” word of Nintendo’s new Developer Portal rose to the surface. Introduction of the portal is especially interesting given Nintendo’s track record regarding third-party developers and the general lack thereof. When Satoru Iwata revealed Project NX earlier this year, and emphasized the company’s reformed philosophy on hardware they didn’t produce themselves, it was clear that Nintendo would be changing its approach to the gaming industry on a fundamental level.
Whenever a new platform is developed, like Nintendo’s NX, or, going a little further back, the Oculus Rift, developers trying to make games for it need to know how it works. This means that the developers of the games you’ll see at launch for any new console have been familiar with the hardware for quite some time before any consumer could get their hands on one. The Wall Street Journal‘s article, linked above, focused on the release of that dev kit for Project NX and on the information about the system that could be gleaned from it.
If you haven’t already seen it, this image released by Nintendo tells the bulk of the story.
The late Satoru Iwata made clear that Nintendo would be leaving behind their philosophy of only developing for their own devices at the Project NX press conference in early 2015. In this endeavor, Nintendo has made available, alongside the Project NX dev kits, a Developer Portal. Developer portals aren’t a new concept, but they are to Nintendo. In general, they symbolize a publishers willingness to embrace third-party developers, which is also new to Nintendo. Portals like this one serve the purpose to providing a place where potential developers can apply to create a game on Nintendo’s hardware. Before this portal, this process was very informal and done on a case-by-case basis. With a tool like this portal out there to help those hopeful developers propagate and seek approval from Nintendo themselves. On the portal’s home page are the encouraging lines:
You’ve seen our story, in games and hardware, helping to define electronic entertainment for generations. Are you ready to tell your story? Are you ready to see your vision come to life on Nintendo’s awesome hardware? Are you ready to create amazing things and want to get all the tools to do it? Let us help you make the next great thing.
So Nintendo is hard at work recruiting additional talent for its upcoming console, but what exactly is Project NX? Well, nobody outside of Nintendo is entirely sure, yet, but the developer kits have given the public a peek at what’s to come. Here’s what The Wall Street Journal had to say:
The exact shape of the NX hardware isn’t yet clear. People familiar with the development plans said Nintendo would likely include both a console and at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use. They also said Nintendo would aim to put industry-leading chips in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U’s capabilities didn’t match those of competitors.
Nothing conclusive, but there is a lot to pick apart here. Back in an interview with NPR in July of this year, Creative Director of Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto, spoke about why Nintendo felt the Wii U under-performed so much in the wake of Nintendo’s most popular console ever, the Wii. He had a fairly in-depth answer, which I’ll quote again here because of the relevance:
One of the things about Nintendo that’s always been interesting is you’ve never tried to make a more powerful console with better graphics, and all the stuff that the Xbox has done. Can you explain a little why you’ve kind of stuck with that?
So unfortunately with our latest system, the Wii U, the price point was one that ended up getting a little higher than we wanted. But what we are always striving to do is to find a way to take novel technology that we can take and offer it to people at a price that everybody can afford. And in addition to that, rather than going after the high-end tech spec race and trying to create the most powerful console, really what we want to do is try to find a console that has the best balance of features with the best interface that anyone can use.
The implications here are strange. Miyamoto is clearly saying that he felt the Wii U performed so poorly, at least in part, because of the price point. Also clear is that the price point is significantly dependent on the hardware found within the console. With this in mind, we return to The Wall Street Journal‘s insights into the hardware, and we see that Nintendo as a whole has decided that the raw processing power the Wii U lacked will not be absent from the NX.
Also confirmed is that the console will be similar to the Wii U in that it will be composed of two parts, one that will stay in the living room, and one that comes with you on your travels.
It’s a lot of information all at once, but the fans waiting for this sort of information are likely rather excited about it.