Nintendo will finally reveal its new console — codenamed NX — at 10AM ET today. It’s been a long and arduous wait for fans, who first caught wind of the company’s Wii U successor in March last year, when late president Satoru Iwata mentioned that Nintendo was at work on “a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept.” It was a glimmer of hope after the commercial failure of the Wii U, but since then, trade shows, press presentations, and community events have come and gone without concrete details, forcing people to sift through patent applications for hints at what the NX will actually be.
It’s been a frustrating process for me, and many others who just want to know what the deal is, but long-time Nintendo gamers will know this dance well. The company has a weird history with its console announcements, historically confirming the existence of new machines months or even years in advance, then dragging their reveals out for as long as possible.
It did it with the Wii U, releasing a statement confirming that an HD-capable successor to the Wii existed months before it showed the machine off at E3 2011, a full year before its eventual launch in 2012. It did it with the GameCube, too, finally confirming that the enigmatic machine codenamed “Dolphin” would be squeezed into a colorful plastic case in 2000, ahead of its launch in late 2001.
But this practice was best illustrated by the launch of the Nintendo 64, a drawn-out process that makes the wait for the NX seem almost trivial. Picture the scene: it’s 1994, and Sony’s PlayStation is already on the market, but Nintendo’s own machine is still years off. The company could rush production on its new console, which had been codenamed “Project Reality,” or keep quiet and let Sony take an easy win. Instead, Nintendo took a different approach, selling its new console — then called the “Ultra 64” — with an ad that specifically pointed out that it wasn’t available yet.
“You can’t buy this,” the ad exclaimed in bold text, ending with a command to “wait for it.” It was an audacious tactic, and one you’d think gamers wouldn’t appreciate, turning instead to the PlayStation rather than waiting for a pie-in-the-sky console at an unspecified point in the future.