Who’s Actually Going To Play The NX?

A little under a month ago Ubisoft was quoted as saying it believed Nintendo’s project NX was going to bring back the Wii audience. Last week another source assumed Nintendo was trying to “upgrade the smartphone audience.” Most people who follow the industry probably think that’s a long shot, but what are Nintendo’s actual advantages and disadvantages here?

It’s no secret the Wii audience left consoles for mobile gaming. That huge mass market is an audience that was never really attached to game consoles. Even if what sources have recently said about NX is true, that concept is probably going to be hard pressed to snatch people away from smartphones, but I don’t think it’s totally impossible that some of those people could show some interest in it.

Like I said in my last post about NX, its biggest problem with mainstream audiences is the fact that it’s a machine primarily for playing games — people aren’t going to buy or turn one on unless they specifically want to play a game. No matter what, it’s not going to be the device people carry on them at all times that happens to have games on it. It might have Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu apps, but non-gaming apps will be secondary. That right there means the majority of smartphone users will continue to play games on smartphones.

The currently-hinted-at vision of NX suggests something between a tablet and a console. I think that idea by itself only as a chance at capturing some people who may not be fully satisfied with the fidelity of mobile games but still want something portable. For the majority, “good enough” is good enough, and they’re already getting that on mobile. Maybe the “mid-core” audience I occasionally hear about in corporate earnings talk might be in play here. Maybe it’s the kids who mainly play mobile games but still dabble in the very most mainstream console games from time to time.

That’s where I think NX’s biggest difference might come in compared to mobile: the software. A whole lot of people out there who didn’t buy Wii Us still care about Nintendo’s intellectual properties. The fervor around the NES Mini and Pokemon Go are the most recent proof of that. Some kids or parents might see that tablet-like thing that has MarioPokemon, and Mario Kart on it and take interest. A single Mario Kart game that can play on a tablet and then convert into a family room console experience might have potential. I think third party games would still have a part to play in this, particularly the ones with the most cache with the mainstream market.

I think Electronic Arts should try its sports games on NX if this is indeed what it is. For starters, based on what we’ve heard, Madden and FIFA games on this device would probably be the closest we’ve ever gotten to console-quality Madden and FIFA on portable devices. The sources say NX will be a beast in handheld terms and better than the previous-generation consoles. Secondly, that mobile-to-console-in-one package could mean a lot when paired with those games.

One thing I’m thinking could be a shock — and this is a total fantasy-land scenario, is a version of Grand Theft Auto V. Technologically it doesn’t seem completely out of the question, and it would be the only portable version of the game. It’s just that Take-Two Interactive has almost no relationship with Nintendo right now.

In any case, the currently rumored vision of NX could certainly do with the support of the most popular mobile games to help make this theoretical transition from smartphones smoother. It should definitely have a version of Minecraft, or anything else super-popular that benefits from a more dedicated portable gaming experience.

If all that fails, NX will likely fall back on the 3DS audience and perhaps the PlayStation Vita audience too. For a device getting software output from what were Nintendo’s console divisions that’s not an unhealthy place to be.

BULLETS:

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