At the time of writing, the NX’s release date is March 2017, a date that is currently less than six months away. Fans have known about the existence of the console for almost a year and a half now and are, perhaps understandably, frustrated at the lack of information (at least from Nintendo) that has been revealed since then. With such a short amount of time left until March 2017, why has Nintendo still not told the world what it can expect from the NX?
Fans are certainly used to hearing about Nintendo’s consoles far more in advance. Wii U, for example, was revealed at E3 2011, which was more than a year before its release in 2012. Nintendo’s justification so far has been that it wants to protect the console’s innovative ideas from copycats, but that reasoning has started to ring hollow given the number of (increasingly credible) rumors and leaks about the NX. If this no longer makes sense though, why else would Nintendo not just go ahead and reveal the NX already?
One reason is that Nintendo wants to make sure that the NX is “launch ready.” By that I mean that it has the software, features, and support necessary for a successful launch, and that it can actually make firm promises during the announcement that will be kept down the line. Nintendo has always said that it wanted a strong launch line-up, and it is also crucial that the hardware features of NX are finalized before they are announced to prevent last-minute backpedaling. After all, Nintendo TVii, a much touted feature of Wii U, saw years of delays in Europe and ended up not even being released. Of course, if the NX is to launch in six months, you would hope that much of this is at least in the process of being finalized, so it doesn’t necessarily explain the lack of an initial reveal yet.
Nintendo’s competitors will also likely have indirectly played a significant role in Nintendo’s decision not to unveil the NX yet. Nintendo will undoubtedly have kept a keen eye on the market in recent month, and Sony and Microsoft were both rumored to be making hardware announcements prior to E3 after all. It was only at the recent PlayStation Meeting meanwhile, that Sony unveiled its newest hardware. By waiting, Nintendo now has the benefit of making the final major hardware announcement of 2016 (that we are aware of anyway) and it can also surely learn from the successes and mistakes of the Xbox and PlayStation conferences.
While gamers get annoyed by delays, as we have seen with the recent PS4 Pro reveal, the unveiling of new hardware is a crucial moment for the manufacturer, and Nintendo has almost certainly listened to the feedback from recent events in order to try and ensure that their reveal is as unanimously well received as is possible.
Recent unveilings like the PS4 Pro are also seemingly indicative of a shift toward the sort of release schedule that traditionally has more in common with mobile phone devices. Perhaps Nintendo is taking a leaf out of Apple’s book? New mobile devices are only revealed tantalizingly close to their launch date after all, and this is now accepted as standard. As unlikely as it sounds, imagine the reaction that Nintendo would get if it announced at the end of the NX reveal that “Pre-orders are open now, with the console going on sale in a month’s time.”
On the other hand, with Nintendo involved in so much in recent months, perhaps it has wanted to finalize these other arrangements before turning to the NX. Mr. Miyamoto recently made a surprise announcement at Apple’s event (something which surely took months of negotiations and planning) and our favorite plumber even showed up at the closing ceremony for the Rio Olympic Games. Sure, Nintendo has whole teams and departments which deal with this sort of thing, but perhaps there has been more going on behind the scenes at Nintendo than we know?
As with anything NX-related at this point though, this can only be speculation. When the console is finally revealed we may never understand why Nintendo waited so long before its unveiling, or it may become immediately obvious. For now, current rumors suggest that we can expect to hear more about the NX “very soon,” and it would be very surprising if nothing was said before the end of October.
Of course, by the end of the year, we will know all about the unique features of the console, the games that we will be playing at its launch and possibly even what the next few years of being a Nintendo gamer will mean. From that point on, the long wait that fans have endured will mean very little. After all, as gamers, we are prone to flaming and raging on forums, but we can’t help but get excited when we see or hear about the next big Mario or Zelda game.
At the end of the day though, a new console launch needs to be done right and after Nintendo’s troubles with Wii U, the NX unveiling needs to be handled properly. That still won’t stop us from letting Nintendo know just how badly we want the company to start openly talking about it though.