TOKYO: Nintendo’s next console code-named “NX” will release globally in March 2017, the company announced during its latest financial earnings report on Wednesday.
The only details Nintendo confirmed about the console is that the NX will feature a “brand-new concept.”
Anyone looking to get more details or a view of the console will have to keep waiting. The company won’t be showing or publicly talking about the NX in June at this year’s E3 event in Los Angeles, California. Instead of the NX, Nintendo announced it will be completely focusing on demonstrating the upcoming Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda. The game has now been delayed into 2017 to improve its development with the NX version of the title.
Nintendo of America’s Twitter confirmed the announcement, saying that the next generation of Nintendo will be coming in March with the NX.
While it won’t be at E3, Nintendo said it plans to have a separate event later in the year to unveil the NX’s features, the console’s technical details, its price and launch games.
When asked for details about the NX, Nintendo’s president Tatsumi Kimishima reinforced that the console would be something completely different but didn’t elaborate how. “At this current stage, I’m not able to say,” Kimishima told Nikkei, a Japanese financial newspaper. “However, it’s not merely the successor to the handheld 3DS or stationary console Wii U. This will be hardware that’s been made with a new way of thinking.”
One of the confirmed games for the NX is a new game in The Legend of Zelda series, which will now launch simultaneously alongside the delayed Wii U version at some point in 2017. A release date wasn’t confirmed but the game was originally scheduled to launch this year. This is the second delay for the new Zelda, which Nintendo delayed in 2015 outside of a release that year because of its expanding concepts during development.
Instead of traditionally launching in the holiday season like it has for several of its previous home console generations, Nintendo will release the NX in the first half of next year. There is a precedent though, as the company did release the first Nintendo 3DS in March 2011, which is still a major part of the company’s core business. The 3DS line of hardware has sold more than 56 million units in its lifetime.
A reason for the NX’s March release outside of the holiday window this year is so that the console would have enough games, according to Kimishima.
The only game that Nintendo will show off at E3 is the new entry in The Legend of Zelda. The Wii U version of the game will be playable on the E3 show floor. It will be the only title that the company demonstrates at E3 “in order to provide attendees a complete immersion” of the new Zelda, according to Nintendo.
With the new Zelda being delayed into 2017, the Wii U doesn’t have a major holiday game besides Paper Mario: Color Splash possibly releasing. The only games that Nintendo is confirmed to launch this holiday are Pokemon Sun and Moon for the 3DS worldwide. Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII re-releases are also scheduled on the handheld for North America and Europe by the end of the year.
Nintendo first acknowledged it was developing the next generation of its hardware in March 2015 during a financial presentation with then president Satoru Iwata. Since then Nintendo has revealed few details about the console. There are all sorts of rumors surrounding the NX, ranging from it being a home console-handheld hybrid, to having an all-new style of controller to using hardware more powerful than a PlayStation 4. It’s also rumored to have a stronger game lineup than the Wii U by drastically increasing its first-party development and the way the company makes its titles.
Nintendo also revealed that the Wii U sold 3.26 million consoles worldwide for its fiscal year between April 1, 2015 and March 31. The Wii U is now at 12.8 million total worldwide, with 6.2 million coming from North America. The forecast for fiscal year 2016 through the end of next March is 800,000 units sold for the console. Production of the Wii U is most likely to be slowed down as Nintendo shifts its entire focus to the NX. The company could stop producing Wii U consoles entirely by March 2018, according to Kimishima.
Almost a third of Wii U owners bought Splatoon, which sold 4.27 million worldwide since its May 2015 launch while Super Mario Maker has 3.52 million sales since its September release last year. The Wii U console continues to retail for $299.99.
Nintendo announced that the company’s financials were much lower for the recent fiscal year. Net income for the company dropped almost 61 percent over the year, down to 16.50 billion yen ($147.32 million) from the previous fiscal calendar of 41.84 billion yen ($373.57 million). Nintendo predicts its earnings for the next fiscal year ending March 31, 2017 will increase to 35 billion yen ($318.18 million at the predicted exchange rate). The NX’s launch in March 2017 just barely puts the console inside the company’s 2016 fiscal year to impact those earnings.
Nintendo continues to focus on expanding into the mobile market. The company announced that new Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing smartphone titles are planned to release this fall from its DeNA partnership. Nintendo called these two releases pure game applications with core playable content that will also connect to the mainline titles on consoles. Nintendo revealed that its Miitomo application has over 10 million downloads worldwide in 16 countries since its launch last month.
The company has operated for the past several months under its new president in Tatsumi Kimishima, who took over in September 2015 after the death of Iwata a few months before. Nintendo also announced on Wednesday that it would be further restructuring its leadership and management. It will be adding a new audit and supervising committee made up of outside directors aimed at strengthening the company’s board of directors and how Nintendo operates. There will also be a new internal system of appointed executive officers to allow for more flexible leadership and faster management decisions within the company.
The Wii U launched in November 2012 and was never able to gain momentum or a stronghold with consumers, unlike the Wii that went on to sell more than 100 million worldwide since its November 2006 launch. The Wii U’s tablet controller, the console’s main feature, didn’t resonate with players like the Wii’s motion controls. Nintendo trails heavily behind Sony, who has over 35 million PS4 consoles sold worldwide while Microsoft has around 19 million with the Xbox One, which both launched in November 2013.
Sony will launch its PlayStation VR hardware for the PS4 this October. The company is also strongly rumored to release an updated PS4 console currently code-named “Neo” that will run improved versions of every game through upgraded hardware. Microsoft is also rumored to release new Xbox hardware that might also be an upgrade to the Xbox One.