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RUMOR: Nintendo prepping new hardware platform for GDC

Posted by: Sean Colleli at 2/4/2010 9:44 PM
It's a bygone conclusion that as soon as a game publisher releases a console, they start working on the next one for years down the road. That said, Nintendo supposedly has something new to show off pretty soon, as soon as GDC, according to a rumor from Videogamer.com. The rumor comes from an anonymous employee at an international publisher, who says that developers are already working with the hardware. Per usual Nintendo denies these rumors.

I have a few thoughts on this rumor. First, Nintendo is notoriously tight-fisted with its dev units and doesn't distribute them to third party developers until the last possible moment--places like EA and Ubisoft didn't get Wii devkits until mere months before the console's release. Second, and contrary to Chuck's oh-so-favorite analyst Michael Patcher, I doubt this is an HD replacement for the Wii.

Despite a downturn in sales the Wii is still doing fine, and Nintendo seems to have finally realized that minigames won't carry it. They're aiming for another big year with at least three huge first party titles and substantial third party support--an obvious effort to reclaim the Wii's status as a legitimate gaming platform and not just a gimmicky casual toy. Nintendo might be changing their strategy for the Wii, but with so much in the pipes--especially a new Wii MotionPlus Zelda--I seriously doubt they're pulling a Sega Saturn and abandoning the platform for fresher hardware.

The most likely outcome is a brand new DS model. True, the DSi XL still isn't out in America but it should be here soon. The DS tech is over five years old and was already outdated when it launched. The DS line is now woefully behind the times and incremental updates like the DSi and XL are analogous to the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Micro--attempts to squeeze the last remaining life out of a product. The XL is also a specialty product targeted at seniors, with no major enhancements over the regular DSi besides bigger screens.

If this rumor has any credence then in my opinion it points to the DS2. Nintendo is just quicker with new hardware in its portables. Satoru Iwata recently talked about the next DS with Japanese news outlet Asahi Shimbun, and although he later claimed they misquoted him, it does point to a new DS in the works. If you ask me it's about time we got a new portable. The DS had a great run, but by now we should have something with at least the muscle of a GameCube and some motion controls to boot.