Nintendo dropped a pair of bombshells yesterday when it acknowledged that it is working on a new dedicated game system, and announced that it would start bringing its games to smartphone and tablet systems.
The new console is code named "NX" but beyond that they didn't offer many details other than calling it a "brand-new concept" and saying they'd have more details to share next year.
It may feel too soon to be talking about a new Nintendo console but the Wii U launched in 2012 and of course hasn't done all that well. If a bigger reveal of the NX in 2016 means a 2017 launch, that gives the Wii U a five year life cycle which seems about right for a console that is struggling. On the other hand if NX comes out in late 2016 then yes, the Wii U will have been quite a short life cycle.
Whether it be 2016 or 2017, Nintendo will have this launch window to itself and it'd be a great chance for them to produce a console considerably more powerful than the PS4 or Xbox One, both of which launched in 2013 and probably won't be replaced until at least 2018 and likely much later than that.
The bigger news is that Nintendo is finally venturing into mobile games (and in this context I mean smartphone and tablet games; obviously the company is already heavily investing in handheld gaming via the 3DS) in partnership with DeNA.
The company was quick to add that it will bring new experiences to mobile rather than port existing titles, which is encouraging. Hopefully that means we won't be trying to steer a Mario Cart via virtual joysticks.
DeNA will also help Nintendo build out a new membership service that spans everything from the Wii U and 3DS to smartphones, PC and the new NX hardware. It's not clear if this service will help with Nintendo's chronic issue of tying digital purchases to hardware, but one can hope.
Nintendo's stock price surged on the news, being up nearly 30% at one point yesterday before easing towards the end of the day to finish up 27.5%. Investors have been clamoring for Nintendo to bring its popular characters to mobile for a long while now. I guess we'll see how well Mario and company do on smartphones.