Let’s get this out of the way: yes, Nintendo is bringing out a new console next year. We know this not because of vague sigils and legends, or Miyamoto being a tease while talking about Tanooki suits on the 3DS, but because Nintendo put out a three paragraph press release saying they’re putting out a new console and that we’ll see it at E3.
Beyond that, everything else you’ve been hearing is probably a crock and the people spouting it should be ashamed of themselves.
Seriously, everything we’ve been hearing about this console is blatant fanboy pipe dreams. Here’s what people, including trained professionals who should know better, are insisting: Nintendo is putting out a console more powerful than the PS3 (based around an AMD GPU) with a controller that has a camera, a touchscreen and eight buttons, it’ll livestream your friends playing games, and it’ll cost between $350 and $400, unless Nintendo decides to go all loss leader on us.
Where to start with this crock of turds? Because almost everything in that above sentence is ridiculous and inconsistent with how Nintendo does business.
– These rumors are suspicious purely because they have every fanboy dream wrapped up in one package. Nintendo didn’t make billions selling to fanboys: they made billions selling to the fanboy’s mom. They’re not going to ditch that market with their next console.
– One thing that does actually make sense is that the next Nintendo console will have HD graphics. That doesn’t mean it’ll be more powerful than the PS3. Opting out of the graphics arms race made Nintendo billions: they’re going to stick with that. But their biggest market all owns HDTVs, so they’ll cater to that.
– The controller is a joke. Why would Nintendo ditch the motion controls that the rest of the industry is following? Forget the console, that controller alone would cost $250. Look, you know what you call a device with a touchscreen, a camera, and eight buttons that streams live video and communicates with a central server wirelessly? A smartphone. That said, I won’t be surprised if this thing does exist…but it’s an accessory.
– Nintendo sells its products at a profit. Period. They didn’t get to be the third biggest company in Japan with hugs and cuddles. So, no, there will not be any sort of loss leader.
– Nintendo also has a price point on its consoles. There hasn’t been a Nintendo console that’s cost more than $250 at launch: the Wii was $250, the Gamecube cost $200, the Nintendo 64 was $200, etc. The 3DS is a decided break from pricing tradition, but it’s Nintendo reacting to the threat from smartphones in the portable market.
Nintendo also learns from history: the PS2 dominated its generation; then the PS3 came along and wiped out most of that goodwill with a $600 price point. Even the 360 struggled to move 20GB systems at $400. A $350 console is very, very unlikely.
– The social media stuff, though, makes a lot of sense. While I doubt you’ll be livestreaming much, keep in mind Nintendo’s big competition turned out not to be the PS3 or the 360, it turned out to be Facebook and Apple. So the new console having a heavy social presence makes a lot of sense: that’s fairly cheap to set up, after all.
How wrong am I? We’ll check in at E3 and find out.