Tuesday 17 March may as well be called Nintendo day. In addition to unveiling official plans to bring Nintendo characters to mobile phones and tablets in the future, the Japanese company has also confirmed the Wii U won't be its last hardware venture: with the code-named Nintendo NX console confirmed by boss Satoru Iwata after the official partnership press conference.
Which should come as no surprise. As we speculated, the move into mobile gaming seemingly sends the message that the company's hardware era is over, and having just scrabbled back from huge losses in 2012 to profit this last year, the company will be keen to keep its dedicated gaming fan base on board.
So the big question: what is the new Nintendo NX console going to be like? Sadly we'll have to wait to find out, with more details to follow in 2016, the console itself presumably to arrive in 2017. The big boss said it's too early to reveal crystalline details at this moment in time and even Nintendo is being coy:
"As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename 'NX'. It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year." Iwata said (as translated officially by Nintendo).
What we do know for sure is that Nintendo really needs to steer clear of the confusing "Wii" namesake. If, that is, the NX is a standalone console rather than a portable one. We also know that the console will become part of the Nintendo family as a whole. Again Nintendo reports Iwata as saying:
"Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service.
"Unlike the Club Nintendo membership service that Nintendo has been operating, the new membership service will include multiple devices and create a connection between Nintendo and each individual consumer regardless of the device the consumer uses. This membership will form one of the core elements of the new Nintendo platform that I just mentioned."
With the Wii U seeing its biggest uptake since launch, choosing now to announce a follow-up might not be the best timing, which might suggest the next-generation of handheld devices is incoming instead.
Whether handheld or standalone, will the to-be-named Nintendo NX be enough to put PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in their place? We do love a console showdown, so roll on 2016 when we can find out some more concrete details.