Rumor: Nintendo NX might use cartridges

A new financial briefing alluding to a large order of ROM chips from Nintendo's go-to manufacturer suggests the NX may be switching back to cartridges.

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More financial leaks point to evidence of what Nintendo's NX console may or may not be, and this time the info didn't come out of the Big N's earnings report. Editors over at Screen Critics uncovered documentation indicating that the console may drop optical media in favor of cartridges.

The info in question comes by way of a financial briefing made by Macronix, a Chinese manufacturer responsible for supplying Nintendo with the ROM chips used in 3DS cartridges.

"Macronix’s ROM chips are usually supplied to videogame console maker, Nintendo," said Macronix chairman Wu Miin in the briefing, which was reported by Japanese site Money Link and translated by NeoGaf users. "Although the sales is in off season during the first quarter, the revenue is similar compared with the same period last year. Wu Miin suggested that as Nintendo had just announced it will release a new generation console in March next year, and the console will be launched at the same time in Japan, America and Europe, so ROM’s sales is expected to increase in the latter half of this year, and it will have a large growth potential."

There's a lot to parse here, so let's dig in. First, Miin alludes to the NX in his report: the "new generation console" Nintendo plans to release in March 17. So, it seems clear Macronix will be supplying ROM chips to Nintendo for hardware of some kind. 3DS? Maybe, but probably not. Screen Critics points out that Macronix recently began using a new line of 32nm (nanometer) chips capable of storing 32 GB of data, four times as much as the 75nm chips in 3DS game cards, which cap out at 8GB. So unless Nintendo's gearing up to release a super-huge 3DS game, these newer chips are intended for a new product line NX.

What product line, exactly, is unclear, as is pretty much everything related to NX. The chips could be integrated into cartridge media, or they could be part of some internal component of the console--although 32GB of storage seems unnecessarily bulky for something like BIOS info.

Either way, it's doubtful Nintendo would release games solely on cartridges. Keep in mind that Nintendo filed a patent for a console without a disc drive. That same patent stressed downloading games to hard drives before playing them. Plus, it's ramping up efforts to flesh out Nintendo Network, and both Wii U and 3DS support digital downloads. So even if the NX does run on cartridges, that's likely just one format that will be available.

On the surface, choosing cartridges over optical media may sound like voluntarily buying a horse for transportation when all your friends are speeding around in automobiles. But Ars Technica points out that the move--if it's true--isn't as dumb as you might think: A 32GB ROM chip that leaves enough space free to add patches and updates could easily supplant Blu-ray discs, and Nintendo's recent earning reports suggest that it doesn't plan to sell the NX at a loss. Cutting out optical drives, which have trouble keeping up with modern CPUs and GPUs, is a good start, so long as the price of NX's cartridges don't get out of hand. Remember paying $80+ for Street Fighter II on SNES?

U-shaped controllers, elaborate hoaxes, cartridge-based media… Say what you want about Nintendo's business practices and its understanding of the industry it single-handedly resuscitated in the 1980s. All these crazy rumors comprise a part of what makes Nintendo fun. What's the NX? Nobody knows! But you can be sure it'll be more interesting than yet another big black box with slightly newer hardware. No other console manufacturer generates buzz quite like Nintendo. You can choose to be frustrated by these rumors, or you can sit back and enjoy the ride.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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  • reply
    May 6, 2016 1:04 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Rumor: Nintendo NX might use cartridges

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 1:11 PM

      That's not necessarily bad anymore since "catridges" aka flash drives can hold more than optical media. I don't know that the cost of them is as cheap as blurays, probably not but I can't find any good info.

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        May 6, 2016 1:24 PM

        Its way better. Much faster access times, physically smaller media, no mechanical drive to increase the console size and cost, and storage size is easily enough to fit even the largest console games. If NX is a hybrid system then its the only media that makes sense for portability, its not possible to have a handheld that uses Blu Ray.

        Discs aren't really relevant as a storage medium for the PS4 and XB1 as it is, games are installed to the hard drive and discs are just used for authentication. Reading off disc during gameplay is just way too slow

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          May 6, 2016 1:29 PM

          I'm not console engineer but that seems to check out. I guess as long as the cost is reasonable thats a good solution.

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          May 6, 2016 1:36 PM

          selling a cart based portable to the iPhone generation would be very Nintendo

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            May 6, 2016 1:45 PM

            Downloads are also an option. I download nearly everything on my 3DS and Wii U as it stands.

            Physical media for Retail and people who want to sell/trade still needs to be there. Solid state is very forward thinking, much better than sticking with optical media.

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              May 6, 2016 1:48 PM

              If it's actually a hybrid they should make the portable portion download only. Buy a retail copy and install it. Or download. Carrying and swapping out carts offers few advantages and a bunch of disadvantages.

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                May 6, 2016 1:52 PM

                Download only would turn off retail and traders. Installing means that it would need to check in regularly for DRM. Installing only works on PS4 and XB1 because the disc is used for authentication. If its not in there then its not running.

                Terrible idea

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                  May 6, 2016 1:54 PM

                  Download with the option for cartridges is a better idea than download only or optical media in every single way. Performance, durability, portability, everything. I don't see the problem.

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                    May 6, 2016 2:06 PM

                    I mean download only in that the portable portion has no disc/cartridge. You would buy the disc from retail to get the game and then you'd install it for the console/portable. Otherwise you can just download instead if you want.

                    DRM is really not an issue that requires physical copies. We're past that.

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                      May 6, 2016 2:10 PM

                      Yes, and if you buy the disc from retail and then install to the portable there would still need to be online check-ins or DRM of some sort, otherwise someone could just buy a physical copy of the game, install it to the portable, and then return it.

                      DRM is absolutely an issue that either requires physical copies for authentication (PS4/XB1) or download only (3DS, Wii U, PS4, XB1, iOS).

                      We're not past that in any way, shape, or form.

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                        May 6, 2016 2:13 PM

                        we're past it in that it's eminently solvable

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                          May 6, 2016 2:25 PM

                          The solution is regular DRM check-ins or the game just ceases to load. That's what Steam tried and failed at doing. Its what Microsoft proposed and got eviscerated for. Again, nobody has figured it out and is unlikely to anytime soon.

                          Cartridges are a better technical solution than optical media in every single way, and this is before we get to it making sense for a portable unit. Downloads remain an option, just as they have been on Nintendo systems for the last ten years.

                          Again, I don't see the problem unless you just have some weird philosophical opposition to solid state media.

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                            May 6, 2016 2:31 PM

                            it seems hard to claim cartridges are strictly better when the entire industry moved off them for a reason

                            I just think it's a mistake to design it in a way that isn't digital first and I suspect investing in your own proprietary cart based solution is at odds with that.

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                              May 6, 2016 2:35 PM

                              Cartridges were a thing before the Playstation came around and killed the cartridge competition.

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                              May 6, 2016 2:40 PM

                              The industry moved away from cartridges because megabyte per dollar couldn't compete with CDs, DVDs, and then Blu Rays. Now we're in 2016 and this is no longer a problem. The issue wasn't performance (N64 games load instantly while the PS1 and PS2 were slooooow), it was all about price per megabyte, and that gap is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

                              You should know this.

                              The Wii U and 3DS put huge emphasis on being "digital first". There are numerous games that are download only (Fatal Frame is the last one that comes to mind, ditto the Pushmo series, Mario vs Donkey Kong, and GOTY 2016 Pocket Card Jockey). An increasing number of 3DS and Wii U games are eShop exclusives that aren't available through retail.

                              It is ignorant to think that the NX isn't being designed as digital first, given what Nintendo has already been doing for years. Whatever they do with cartridges won't be at the expense of the eShop.

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                                May 6, 2016 3:22 PM

                                and that gap is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

                                Even if it was exactly even, they incur additional costs for a proprietary solution. They're spending R&D on a new system instead of taking a cheap, off the shelf disc solution. Instead of leveraging the huge economics of scale in the disc making supply chain they have to get something set up for their custom solution. There're all these costs beyond just the gap between the per unit cost of a disc vs flash stick.

                                The Wii U and 3DS put huge emphasis on being "digital first".

                                This is a hard pitch to make when they failed to do the fundamentals of a digital first system that all the competition had for years (account/content management). They can want to be digital first, and think they're thinking digital first, but not actually know what that means.

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                                  May 6, 2016 3:45 PM

                                  Things like universal accounts and cloud services are in progress. Its happening with Miitomo right now. Game distribution is the main thing that they've already been doing for years, that's the point.

                                  The rest of the stuff matters in terms of QoL, obviously, but its also completely irrelevant when it comes to the topic of sales and distribution.

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                                  May 6, 2016 4:18 PM

                                  "They're spending R&D on a new system instead of taking a cheap, off the shelf disc solution."

                                  Who cares? This is just a higher capacity version of what they've done since the Game Boy. They've shipped well over a billion portable cartridges by now. The current one from 2011 is an 8GB cartridge that they've sold over 300 million units of. This is just a 2017 version of that, and the move to 32GB in six years is not outrageous considering the rapid decline of solid state prices in that time.

                                  Its a complete non-factor.

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                                    May 6, 2016 4:29 PM

                                    I'm pretty sure Nintendo cares about costs. And you're focusing on an extremely narrow set of costs. Of course price/gb of flash is down over time. That's not the whole problem. Even if a cart is literally the same cost as a disc on a $/gb basis there're more costs to using carts than discs.

                                    They have to design a home console that uses these new carts instead of a well known disc format. They don't get to just re-use the 3DS cart technology and cart format. This is like saying the XBox is free to design because it's basically just PC parts slapped together. There're a bunch of 3rd parties who aren't used to making cart based games (because they've abandoned Nintendo platforms for the past X years) that now have to take on the cost of learning that. On the supply and distribution side you have issues like what's the additional cost to ship 100,000 carts across the country vs 100,000 discs due to the weight differences? Yes these are costs 3DS games dealt with. Now you're talking about EA and Activision having to deal with them to ship Madden and CoD (or else you're not caring about those titles which is a whole separate issue).

                                    There're all these additional variables being added. And for what? A dying distribution format.

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                                      May 6, 2016 4:45 PM

                                      Its a dying distribution format that is absolutely necessary because people still buy, trade, and resell games at retail.

                                      If Nintendo could get away with 100% digital then I'm sure they would, but it is totally unreasonable to expect that right now.

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                                  May 6, 2016 6:04 PM

                                  I believe they were one of the first to go day-1 digital for all releases.

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              May 6, 2016 2:24 PM

              Optical media costs pennies per unit to manufacture. Nintendo would be shooting themselves in the foot if they tried to use flash based cartridges to distribute games that are 50GB+ in size.

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                May 6, 2016 2:29 PM

                Even a high fidelity game like Uncharted 4 is 40GB. Dark Souls 3 on my PC is half that size.

                People are pulling out 60GB games as examples but that exceeds the 50GB storage capacity of Blu Ray.

                The move from mechanical/optical media to solid state makes all the technical sense in the world and people are making excuses against it. MSRP won't be any different, so I don't get the problem.

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                  May 6, 2016 2:32 PM

                  MSRP won't be any different, so I don't get the problem.

                  the cost issue is on the producer side (potentially lower per game margins for devs and Nintendo), not the consumer side

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                    May 6, 2016 2:44 PM

                    They will be pressing tens or hundreds of millions of cartridges per year. You don't think this will have some impact on their wholesale prices?

                    Nintendo isn't paying what people do for SD cards on Amazon...

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                      May 6, 2016 3:18 PM

                      I'm not saying it costs $10/unit more or something, but whatever it does cost is a real cost to whoever has to bear it (devs and/or Nintendo). Maybe it's inconsequential, maybe not, I don't know for sure.

                      Let's say it was $1/unit more to make/ship/store carts. That's millions of dollars lost on a big game. Who's eating that cost? Does the dev/publisher just make less than they would've had it been disc based? That's the opposite of what Nintendo needs to be doing for 3rd parties.

                      Alternatively it's just a cost Nintendo bears. So how much did they save skipping an optical drive in the NX? It's pretty quickly offset when they make $5m less for each of their big exclusives that do 5m+ units.

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                  May 6, 2016 2:34 PM

                  How is games bigger than 50gb a problem?

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                  May 6, 2016 3:00 PM

                  Cost per gigabyte is higher on a card than disc

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                  May 6, 2016 3:46 PM

                  "All the technical sense in the world"

                  Yes, it makes perfect sense for Nintendo to move to a more expensive physical format at a time when physical media is dying.

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                    May 6, 2016 3:56 PM

                    Physical media needs to be an option for retail. Nintendo has the most popular console with the 3DS and they've sold roughly 300 million cartridges since release. Now its 2016, don't you think 32GB carts would have scaled down in price by now?

                    Downloads will be there just like they have been for the last ten years, that's not going away. The eShop has been taking increasing share away from retail every year. Indies like Shovel Knight sold well over a million copies on Nintendo platforms, and that was download only.

                    Where is this idea coming from that cartridges are at the expense of downloads? Nobody here is putting forward a good argument.

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                      May 6, 2016 4:12 PM

                      No one is saying that cartridges would replace digital downloads. They're saying that it doesn't make sense to switch to a physical format that offers less storage capacity and costs more to produce.

                      Games are only getting larger in size, so it doesn't make any sense for Nintendo's next gen console to use a format that isn't large enough to support games that came out 2+ years ago.

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                        May 6, 2016 4:22 PM

                        Yes, games are larger. Nintendo's system from 2011 had 8GB cartridges and their 2017 system is using 32GB cartridges, possibly higher if need be. This is not an outrageous jump in six years considering how much cheaper solid state storage has become in this time.

                        The 3DS is also the biggest current gen platform with over 300 million cartridges shipped. Going with carts makes sense from a performance standpoint, it makes sense from a form factor standpoint if portability is one aspect of the NX, and price doesn't seem like a big deterrent given that its been totally fine with over a billion of cartridges sold since the Game Boy.

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                          May 6, 2016 4:30 PM

                          its been totally fine with over a billion of cartridges sold since the Game Boy.

                          it's been fine when there's no reasonable alternative. Given the alternative of discs, home consoles chose those and saved money. Now on a portable you have the option of digital only.

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                            May 6, 2016 4:43 PM

                            And digital only will be an option with the NX, just as its an option with the Wii U and 3DS.

                            What is not an option is optical media on a portable. Quite frankly its barely an option for a set top box unless Blu Ray movie playback is a cornerstone feature, and streaming has obviously replaced that for the mainstream.

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                              May 6, 2016 4:49 PM

                              I don't think anyone has argued for spinning discs in the handheld portion

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                                May 6, 2016 4:56 PM

                                And nobody has worked out how to prevent people just keeping the game in the portable unit without some sort of physical media acting as DRM or online check-ins.

                                People buying the game, installing it, and then returning it without any consequences or protection has to be a serious concern and nobody has solved it yet. Not Microsoft, not Valve, not anyone unless no-DRM like with GOG is a feature, and that's never ever happening with the NX.

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                May 8, 2016 9:09 AM

                There a few advantages to using cartridges over optical media or even pure digital. Those could be the ability to extend the functionality of a console with an extra processing module. Games like StarFox had a extra chip to help render the fake 3d. Google Super FX you will understand what I am talking about.

                Considering that both Microsoft and Sony are thinking about mid-cycle upgrades have cartridges like this could be quite useful.

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        May 6, 2016 1:25 PM

        Also if the NX is a home console and a handheld that share games then cartridges are the way to go. Where you play the big pretty version on the TV, and the lower res one on the handheld. Similar to the Playstation 4/Neo stuff, or what has been done with PC with low and high graphics settings.

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          May 6, 2016 1:27 PM

          Yeah should have mentioned speed as Serpico brought up but if the home console/mobile is true this makes even more sense.

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            May 6, 2016 1:30 PM

            To be honest I never truly believed the console/mobile thing but this could be a good indication

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          May 6, 2016 1:45 PM

          As an owner of the TG16 and Turbo Express back in the 90's, I can provide a professional opinion that this was a sexy feature. I even had the TV Tuner hooked up to that bitch!

          This day in age though I don't know. I think a lot will depend on exactly what the NX is.

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        May 6, 2016 1:28 PM

        They're still pretty expensive compared to optical media, aren't they?

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          May 6, 2016 2:06 PM

          Can't be much of an issue since Vita and 3DS both do it. Goes up to 8GB. I would bet 32GB is feasible.

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            May 6, 2016 2:08 PM

            and they charge $30-40 for games that have to increasingly compete with games that cost $0-5

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              May 6, 2016 2:42 PM

              That's not why they charge that price though. And although they compete with cheap games, doesn't mean that the games they're developing aren't worth that price. Candy Crush and Zelda shouldn't even be compared.

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                May 6, 2016 3:42 PM

                I'm sure somebody is comparing effort to dollars :D

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        May 6, 2016 1:34 PM

        Don't they still have the same caveats though? Not being able to maintain read speeds long enough for videos and stuff?

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          May 6, 2016 1:48 PM

          [deleted]

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            May 6, 2016 1:51 PM

            the XB1 isn't running games off that though. The comparison should be to the HDD speed (which obviously isn't super fast)

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            May 6, 2016 2:01 PM

            Games are designed around Hard Drives, so i matters nothing what speed you read with from your storage device, it would only be the few 100% exclusive games that would take advantage of Cartridge advantages.

            And just as the games are designed around the Harddrives so are the consoles, the moment you insert a disc the game starts installing, and it is playable when the first segment is installed (typically around a max of 5GB), which takes a few minutes.

            TLDR, the big AAA multiplatform titles would gain nothing but likely feature less detailed textures etc, because on a cartridge space is money.

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        May 6, 2016 1:49 PM

        It's bad news, it is still more expensive than the Blu-Ray stamping, it holds very little advantage vs the sheer size of Blu-Ray vs Price and it will results in compromises as we have learned EVERY TIME anyone has used Cartridges. Imho it would also point to a HDD less console with limited local storage or external storage options, compromises compromises..

        And you can read up on this little thread on the subject here, where me and a few others from BE3D discussed the subject before the current consoles launch. And as i mention in one of my last posts, what have changed since the Launch of the XB1/PS4 that would make cartridges more attractive.

        https://forum.beyond3d.com/threads/alternative-distribution-to-optical-disks-ssd-cards-and-download.42843/

        Now that been said, i would LOVE for a NAND based system with insane quick storage that takes up little space and opens up for new possibilities when it comes to games. RDR2 on a 256GB NAND cartridge where the access time and streaming speed would let us experience detailed environments would be awesome.. and also just a dream :-/

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          May 6, 2016 2:20 PM

          Fallout 4 and Witcher 3 are both around 30GB. Rise Of The Tomb Raider is 20GB and Dark Souls 3 is just under 20GB. Even Witcher 3 is under 40GB. If a game requires 64GB or 128GB sizes then that's an adjustment that can be made, and in both cases that's much higher capacity than the 50GB that a dual layer Blu Ray can hold.

          On top of that there would be cost savings on console itself. No optical drive drives down the price of the hardware and the physical size itself, reducing packaging size, shipping costs, etc etc.

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            May 6, 2016 2:23 PM

            On top of that there would be cost savings on console itself. No optical drive drives down the price of the hardware and the physical size itself, reducing packaging size, shipping costs, etc etc.

            which then gets pushed instead to everyone making a game?

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            May 6, 2016 2:23 PM

            You should really read the 122 page thread I posted ☺️

            You need more space, you stamp 2 discs.

            The BLURAY drive is not free, but it's so cheap considering the savings in the long run and the added flexibility of playing BLURAY movies and even uhd BLURAY.

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              May 6, 2016 2:26 PM

              Its a luddites format, and I say this as someone who collects the shit out of Blu Ray movies because streams look like dogshit. Hell, I wish I could have movies on solid state...

              As long as the retail price remains the same, and 3DS games cost the same no matter what the ROM size, then I don't see the problem.

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                May 6, 2016 2:28 PM

                This. As long as Nintendo properly links games and other downloads to my account so I can rest easy about recovering them if/when my hardware bites the dust, I'd buy NX games digitally anyway. Easier to keep track of, and just more convenient all around.

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                  May 6, 2016 2:30 PM

                  Yeah, I already downloads nearly all my Nintendo games. This is just a way to get everything off of a slow, inferior format. Discs are mostly irrelevant to the PS4 and XB1 anyway, they're just DRM authentication since everything gets installed on the hard drive anyway. They're useless

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                    May 6, 2016 2:34 PM

                    I don't think people disagree with this. But it's strange to say digital is the future and then invest in a custom physical solution instead of just re-using the cheap/known physical solution that you're hoping fewer and fewer people use.

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                      May 6, 2016 2:41 PM

                      Well, it makes sense when you consider what Serpico74 pointed out (and what I discussed in my write-up): disc access speeds can't keep up with newer processors and graphics cards. They're becoming a bottleneck. Nintendo's in a position where it doesn't have to use the physical solution everyone else is going with. "Everyone else is doing it" isn't really Nintendo's style.

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                      May 6, 2016 2:41 PM

                      If a portable unit is a core part of the system then optical media makes absolutely zero sense. It was a terrible idea on the PSP and frankly its a terrible idea for the Playstation 4, but right now we're stuck with old technology. Someone has to pave the way.

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                        May 6, 2016 2:47 PM

                        Terrible idea?
                        https://youtu.be/kWSIFh8ICaA

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                          May 6, 2016 3:25 PM

                          Context, brah. It was and is a terrible idea to use optical media for handheld systems.

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                          May 6, 2016 3:27 PM

                          Apply that video to cartridges, its the same thing

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                        May 6, 2016 3:23 PM

                        I'd just reiterate that I don't think the portable system should have physical media being carried around with it. The discs are for the console part.

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                          May 6, 2016 3:26 PM

                          What's the logic in using physical media in either scenario? I get not wanting to carry around discs or cartridges for a handheld system: too easy to lose, get stolen, etc. But media is no less inconvenient at home. I like being able to kick back on my couch and browse my game library without having to swap discs or cartridges.

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                            May 6, 2016 4:19 PM

                            for the same reasons everyone complained about the XB1's original plan.

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                              May 6, 2016 5:43 PM

                              Except physical media will exist in this case, right out of the gate, so far as we know.

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                                May 6, 2016 5:45 PM

                                Also, remember that Microsoft's MESSAGING was a greater source of ire than their execution. They ate crow (and are still eating crow) because they said, in effect, "You don't need this. We know what you need. Deal with it."

                                Nintendo hasn't confirmed or denied anything yet.

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                                  May 6, 2016 5:51 PM

                                  yes, the messaging was hilariously bad. But if you think the messaging was the greater source of ire (reasonable) then that's reason to believe in a digital only Nintendo handheld. I know Nintendo hasn't confirmed anything. It's fun to theory craft.

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                          May 6, 2016 3:33 PM

                          I download everything, but there needs to be a solution for people who buy retail.

                          Again, discs for a console and nothing for the portable unit wouldn't work without regular online check-ins for DRM. This is a terrible solution, and this is before we get to the fact that optical media is technically inferior to solid state in every way.

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                          May 6, 2016 3:58 PM

                          They make good gifts.

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                May 6, 2016 2:30 PM

                I am not disagreeing, give me solid state movies, give me insane games thanks to cartridges. But it's just not how it works.

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                  May 6, 2016 4:13 PM

                  Dropping floppies, digital distribution with Steam, dropping optical media on laptops and PCs, these are all things that I've debated with Shackers who said that they "shouldn't work", but they did.

                  The move back to solid state is such an obvious thing, I called it for the NX last year once it was speculated that portability was one of its features. I'm surprised at how conservative nerds can be with technology sometimes. What "isn't supposed to work" becomes the norm because technology and cost inevitably meet.

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                    May 7, 2016 12:26 AM

                    I will gladly repeat myself, if the nx is going to compete directly with the ps4 and Xb1, then a limited space format like cartridges is going to hurt it. There is no way around it, cartridges costs more than optical.

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                      May 7, 2016 2:46 AM

                      Yes, and prices will keep driving down. The jump to 128GB capacities is as inevitable as the jump from 8GB 3DS cartridges over to 32GB NX cartridges, and if it happens within the lifespan of the NX it wouldn't require a new hardware interface like it would with Blu Ray.

                      I don't see the big deal. Of course it costs more than optical but to say that solid state is inherently space limited isn't correct. A jump to 64GB or 128GB solid state is much easier than upgrading ubiquitous 50GB dual layer Blu Ray drives to whatever is next (already questionable based on the rise of streaming). No hardware would have to change with solid state, just higher capacity memory modules.

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                        May 7, 2016 4:00 AM

                        Why would Bluray require anything new to handle 50GB+ sizes? It will still be exceptional cheaper than any cartridge, you just ship on 2 discs = 100GB

                        Cartridges that are big will cost more, so there will be a much more tight budget on space. I have every cartridge based system as evidence. And unless something radical new has come around then nothing has changed.

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                          May 7, 2016 5:29 AM

                          Of course things have changed. The price of solid state memory has cratered over the last several years. Its perfectly reasonable that 8GB carts in 2011 would work up to 32GB in 2017.

                          The argument seems to be "it hasn't worked in the past so it can't work in the future". I don't buy it, mostly because this is a logical extension of what Nintendo has already been doing in portable even as their home consoles moved to optical formats. They've shipped billions of portable cartridges in the modern console era and put billions in the bank while doing it. This isn't some crazy thing.

                          As for storage size, a 128GB SD card smaller than my fingernail can fit Dark Souls 3 on it six times. This is far more room than is necessary, but the headroom is definitely there if need be.

                          The technology and the scale for cartridge distribution haven't really changed, especially considering their handheld business has always been massive. Its just memory capacities that have come down in price over time. This isn't a big mental leap.

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                            May 7, 2016 5:35 AM

                            It's perfectly understandable that a mobile device cannot rely on Blu-ray. But any classic console that Nintendo might be working on will be behind from the get go if it goes the cartridge way. Stuck in the mud of old ways that today still would be wrong, even if the costs are lower. They are still way above a optical media and still bogged down by being exclusive to Nintendo.

                            And as said before, they hold zero advantage to optical media except for odd exclusive that might do something special.

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                              May 8, 2016 6:41 PM

                              Optical media is orders of magnitude slower, has smaller storage capacity, and requires a mechanical point of failure that doubles the size of the console.

                              There are more pros than cons to solid state. The only con is manufacturing cost, and at $60 MSRP the price delta is such that it will make no impact on cost to consumer or third party.

                              You're absolutely incorrect here.

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                                May 8, 2016 9:23 PM

                                The speed depends on the installed hard drive, not the media. And as I said, only Nintendo exclusive games would benefit from a console with cartridges.

                                With cartridges you compromise on graphic quality.

                                I find it strange that you ignore the facts I brought up in some of my other posts.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 5:52 PM

        Yah imagine a 1 TB cart that reads and writes at full SSD speeds.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 1:27 PM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 1:35 PM

      I can't wait to blow on the cartridge!

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 1:37 PM

      80$ for SF2 on SNES was a great deal though

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 1:44 PM

        As a kid, $80 for a video game meant a lot of paychecks from my paper route.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 1:46 PM

          Yeah but it was Street Fighter 2!!!! Apart from that you had to spend quarters in the arcade and it was honestly a pretty damn good port.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 1:47 PM

            Being able to play SFII at home was a seminal life moment.

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 3:51 PM

              I kind of forgot, but it was. This thread is bringing it all back. Damn. Remember when Nintendo used to get the best third party games?!

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 3:55 PM

                Word. SNES - greatest console of all-time.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 1:48 PM

            I got Roadrunner's Death Valley Rally as a birthday present one year and my Mom wanted me to have my friend return it because $70 was too expensive. Luckily my friend's Mom said no! That game was ok, but shit $70!

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 1:50 PM

              I think Phantasy Star 1 is still the best Cartridge ever made /KanyeWest

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 1:52 PM

            [deleted]

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 2:54 PM

            I certainly got my moneys-worth out of it. These days there's way to many games released every week. Impossible to keep up and unfortunately many don't get a lot of staying power.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 4:10 PM

          In defense to those expensive carts, a lot of those had a co-processor that was built to the cart itself. The SFX chip from Star Fox, or that C4 that were in some of the Megaman X games.

          Carts can do things that disc just can't, like have fast access times and not sound like a blender on high in the process :/

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:02 PM

        SF2 was the first game I remember playing thinking how great of an arcade port it was.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:09 PM

        I paid $65 for Mario 3 and that was a shitload of money back then. Totally worth it tho

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:20 PM

        Paid $80 for FF3, would make my parents pay again.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 2:00 PM

      Cool, I wonder how much it would cost for a cartridge that matched the capacity of a dual layer blu-ray.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:08 PM

        50GB is dual-layer, so let's go up to 64GB.

        That's about $7 retail for a low-end microSD card, so you could probably get them for ~$3 each wholesale.

        If I use the quoter tool from DiscMakers.com, pressing 1,000 BluRay discs would cost ~$2,500, or about ~$2.50 each.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 2:20 PM

          The price is way lower than 2.5 most likely below a dollar

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 2:21 PM

            I agree, especially for larger production runs.

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 2:25 PM

              And it's very easy to press more if there is a demand, vs cartridges where the production is typically limited by whoever has the licensing. Plenty of horror stories from the old Nintendo days

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 2:38 PM

                To be fair, you still need to go through a licensed manufacturer and pay a per-disc fee to the platform holder for current disc-based consoles.

                • reply
                  May 6, 2016 2:42 PM

                  Yes, but stamping BLURAY discs can be done all over the world

                  • reply
                    May 6, 2016 2:49 PM

                    That doesn't negate what RomSteady said. No matter what you still have to pay Sony or Microsoft to stamp your Bluray. It's not free.

                    • reply
                      May 6, 2016 2:52 PM

                      Of course, but the problem with having limited capacity thanks to a proprietary technique is limited capacity.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 2:39 PM

          Neither of those are even close to what Nintendo would pay. They're not buying or pressing 1000 units they're doing millions.

          64gb Microsd at that quantity on alibaba is about $1.00. They could probably get an even better price. 50gb BluRays are going for 0.10-0.15 cents. Both will require further processing for the data and artwork but your 0.50 difference has now turned into a near 10x price increase.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 3:54 PM

            Right. That sounds awful. But when you put it another way, it doesn't: so they charge $1 more for every game. Done.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 4:03 PM

            But the cost difference is really easy to pass on to the consumer. Are you going to notice a $1 price difference? That's all they need to make back the extra cost, which is nothing.

            I'd actually prefer SD cards over optical media, actually. They're way more durable, take up less space and have better access times.

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 4:07 PM

              Why would they pass on the extra cost? They never did it with 3DS or GBA cartridges. When did the price of media suddenly become some hot debate topic? I'm surprised that this is even an issue.

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 4:41 PM

                I have no idea, lol. Agreed that they'd probably eat the extra cost, it was more a response to the OMG 100X PRICE DIFFERENCE!. It's maybe $1 per unit in extra costs, not really a big deal and a small enough cost that it *could* be passed on and nobody would really care.

                • reply
                  May 6, 2016 4:49 PM

                  It's maybe $1 per unit in extra costs

                  That's 100s of millions of dollars across the console's total software sales

                  • reply
                    May 6, 2016 4:58 PM

                    Oh, absolutely. And money that can easily be recouped through a negligible price increase or even outright absorbed given the margins that games have. Hell, they might even be able to get shipping costs down per unit to offset it with smaller packaging.

                    It's a small enough difference in price that it's not really worth even discussing.

                    • reply
                      May 6, 2016 5:04 PM

                      Smaller packaging and cheaper shipping are all benefits, not just for the games but also for the consoles themselves. Most of the volume of the Wii U isn't the electronics, its that ancient optical drive.

                      The idea that a new piece of consumer electronics ships with an optical drive in 2017 sounds absolutely prehistoric, but that's just me.

                    • reply
                      May 6, 2016 5:06 PM

                      I don't see how everyone losing $5m+ each in profit on a big hit game is not even worth discussing. That seems like a pretty important thing to weigh in your feature decisions.

                      Yes, NX games could sell for $61. But that's not a good look. I basically don't think that's even on the table as an option.

                      Yes, the cost could just be absorbed in lower margins, that's the point. Tell 3rd parties the NX version of their game makes $1 less per unit.

                      If anything the shipping costs are likely more than a disc since the carts weigh more per unit and don't just slot in to the existing supply/distribution chain.

                      • reply
                        May 6, 2016 5:13 PM

                        Who said that third parties will be losing money?

                        There are so many assumptions going on, including the assumption that DRM for the portable unit is somehow "eminently solvable" when companies like Valve and Microsoft haven't even begun to make a dent in that issue.

                        Again, its been fine with the 3DS and DS. The DS alone shipped over a billion cartridges. This is the same thing as before, only with higher profit margins and higher memory capacity.

                        • reply
                          May 6, 2016 5:15 PM

                          someone has to bear the increased costs of a cart vs disc solution. One option is the 3rd party. I outlined other options right there.

                      • reply
                        May 6, 2016 5:18 PM

                        Let's say it's a palette of goods that are the same size as 3DS boxes. That wouldn't really affect existing supply/distribution at all. And it wouldn't be third parties absorbing the cost, it would be Nintendo themselves (if they wanted to go that route).

                        The point is that an extra $1 per unit in materials can be offset in various ways, it's not as big a deal as you think it is. If it were closer to $5 per unit then it would be a huge problem. But going from $0.15 to $1 is completely manageable.

                        • reply
                          May 6, 2016 5:33 PM

                          That wouldn't really affect existing supply/distribution at all

                          Seems like it certainly affects it if the palette weighs more when you go to ship it across the country/world.

                          And it wouldn't be third parties absorbing the cost, it would be Nintendo themselves (if they wanted to go that route).

                          Right, Nintendo could eat the cost if they want. Serpico advocated for this change by claiming removing the optical drive is a great cost cutting measure and I was pointing out how I doubt that math checks out if Nintendo bears the additional cost of cart production/distribution. The alternative is it really is a cost cutting measure and the costs are put on the consumers or 3rd parties.

                          The point is that an extra $1 per unit in materials can be offset in various ways

                          Obviously this depends on the situation and we don't have enough insight to say for sure one way or another. Sometimes it can be offset, sometimes it can't. Sometimes one thing just costs more than another and that can't be offset and that's a factor in deciding which solution to go with. My point is just that if it does end up costing something like $1/unit (where unit = a game, not a palette), that seems like a very real amount to me. Serpico mentioned 300m 3DS carts sold over its lifetime. If that was your target when you were designing the system and you had the option between design A and B but you knew B would cost you $1 more per unit with a projected 300m sold you'd certainly have to factor in that B costs you $300 million more to go with, whatever technical merits it may have over A.

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                            May 6, 2016 5:39 PM

                            The thing is that dollar amounts are also disregarded when technical considerations are put into play. We see it all the time with innovative form factors like ultrabooks and massive disruptions like the iPhone. At some point price converges with where technology is going.

                            Optical media and solid state have been converging to such a degree that the cheaper price of optical media stops being a big enough benefit compared to faster performance and portability.

                            • reply
                              May 6, 2016 5:49 PM

                              dollar amounts are absolutely not disregarded when technical considerations are in play. You do what you can afford. You can't claim this and simultaneously claim carts are an obvious solution because they save money. Does money matter in the design or not? Of course it matters. Every console has a strict budget to hit in its design. Maybe the cost curves are converging sufficiently. But there's additional cost beyond the price/GB and it's being invested in a medium that should be gone sooner rather than later.

                              • reply
                                May 6, 2016 5:57 PM

                                I never said that carts saved money, only that costs could be offset by cheaper console BOM and cheaper packaging/shipping for consoles and games.

                                Money matters in any design but they're also balanced by the design goals. You're putting the cart before the horse when you should be taking a much more holistic view of things. If portability is a major goal then Blu Ray is not an option, full stop.

                                "and it's being invested in a medium that should be gone sooner rather than later."

                                It is fantasy to think that retail sales for console games will be entirely replaced by digital distribution anytime soon. There is a very large segment of customers that need to be accounted for.

                                What would be suicide is if Nintendo went with digital distribution as the only option. That's what would be outrageous.

                                • reply
                                  May 6, 2016 6:00 PM

                                  I think their portable/console hybrid plan is outrageous but here we are

                                  • reply
                                    May 6, 2016 6:31 PM

                                    It makes sense from a development standpoint. Super Mario 3D World and 3D Land, both brilliant games, had the same game director. Mario Kart 7 and 8, again same director. Smash for Wii U and 3DS, minus graphics, are both the same game. Physics, damage models, characters, balance, all the same.

                                    Consolidating their portable and living room divisions into one unit makes sense given how much their games have already been converging. Nintendo also has continued strength in handheld. The 3DS still does very well even though its six years old and always had competition from smartphones. It has six games that sold over 10 million units and about 20 that sold between 2 million and 8.5 million. The new Fire Emblem Fates that just came out is the fastest selling in the series, 2 million sold and still climbing.

                                    The ultra-casual market is gone to phones and tablets but the console gamer audience still exists.

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                                      May 6, 2016 6:40 PM

                                      As someone who spends too much time on my phone, it's a horrible fucking platform for games.

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                                      May 6, 2016 8:46 PM

                                      it's notable that you mostly named a bunch of reasons it's good for Nintendo and few reasons it has broad appeal. You're right that the casual market is gone. The problem is the remaining core games have been unsatisfied with Nintendo's low fi approach the past two generations. MS tried to diversify and got burnt. Sony doubled down on core gamers and had great success. Trying to pitch these folks on "yeah it's low fidelity and requires you buy another gaming platform too but it includes a handheld you don't want" is not super compelling.

                                      Presumably they have to sell the portable portion separately as well because they surely can't intend to make the entry level of their handheld platform $300.

                                      • reply
                                        May 6, 2016 9:03 PM

                                        Most of the discussion has been about whether something like choice of physical media is good for Nintendo's bottom line or not. I don't see how consolidating development is any less relevant. Their last five years of software releases are definitely more relevant in terms of predicting where Nintendo is going.

                                        Appeal comes from releasing more games around launch and having marketing that isn't confusing. The 3DS and Wii U libraries are both fantastic, among the best of the current gen. Both had terrible launches and for whatever reason one platform recovered while the other didn't. Its on Nintendo not to make the same mistakes again.

                                        Regarding fidelity, matching or exceeding the power of a 2014 console should be pretty simple in 2017.

                                        As for the portable thing, who knows how it'll work, whether its sold as a single unit or if its an ecosystem of hardware sharing a single software library. I'm not going to speculate on that because there is no definitive information on how NX will be sold. The only information people have are patents describing software that runs on handheld and console devices which scales graphics based on the power of the hardware its running on.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:17 PM

        $17 retail - http://www.amazon.com/Transcend-Class-UHS-1-Memory-TS64GSDU1E/dp/B00FB465IG

        SD cards are different memory though, Nintendo would get a ROM of some short.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:26 PM

        Price: What consumers are willing to pay. Always.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 2:28 PM

          the consumer is willing to pay the same price for games as always. If carts cost more to produce than discs it's just profit being taken from devs/Nintendo.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 2:33 PM

            Unlikely scenerio. If anything is constant in the universe, it is that Nintendo likes to make money.

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 2:35 PM

              well unless Nintendo has altered the way math works someone in the supply chain is going to make less money per copy sold if cartridges cost more to produce, store, and/or ship than discs. Or else consumers will bear the cost.

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 2:42 PM

                Now you've got me thinking: it might be interesting to write up a report on the costs involved in producing, storing, and/or shipping 3DS games. The costs involved must be better across the board than they were back in the SNES/N64 days.

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 2:46 PM

                I don't know what truth there is to this story, but a scenario where Nintendo eats $10- $15 on every game is unlikely. And the slimness of the chance that they managed to eliminate those costs leads me to believe that there is, at best, only a half truth here.

                • reply
                  May 6, 2016 3:24 PM

                  $10-15/unit is obviously a non-starter. $1/unit is still a real cost. Even $0.50/unit more means millions in additional costs for every big hit.

                  • reply
                    May 6, 2016 4:58 PM

                    I could see a couple of hybrid console scenarios.

                    They could have $40 - $50 for premium carts, and a $20 hd cross-buy option, or a separate hd only purchase for $60. They've done a couple of crazy dual purchase things with Bayonetta 1 & 2 on the Wii U, and the Fire Emblem games on the 3DS.

                    I could also see a single memory cart on the controller purely for storing games and/or data transferred from the main unit for portable play.

                    But eating profits is very un-Nintendo like, and I would not expect them to go that route. Especiallly since it already been mentioned that they would not be taking a loss on the units. I don't know if that was true though.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 2:52 PM

      With their switch to classic nintendo red recently (in stores and some marketing) and this news I am fully anticipating the NX to have some retro appeal

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 2:54 PM

      noone seems to be really understanding the staggering price difference in a memory card and an optical disk. its STAGGERING. its the difference between getting like 50 discs for a couple bucks, and a couple bucks for a single cartridge (assuming ~50 gigs for a cart given thats the capacity for bluray)

      there is a HUGE investment of time and equipment to stamp out the boards and chips for a cart, the plastic for the case, the adhesive label for the thing, the metal contacts and wiring for the interface and all the other components im not thinking of. noone does it. there isnt even anyone to source this shit from on the scale of a major home console. and no, that place you bought that "new" romhack for your NES, or that "new" battlekid cart from do not count. we are talking MANUFACTURING here.

      there is a well developed, mature, cheap, and efficient infrastructure in place to stamp out discs by the thousand in literally seconds. the discs cost effectively nothing.

      nothing like this exists anymore for any form of cartridge. and it hasnt in a very, very long time. if nintendo is spending the money to build this, then they are bigger fools than anyone ever suspected.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 2:58 PM

        and also, the 2gb carts from the 3ds do not count either because i know the cultists will point this out probably before i make this addendum. 2gb wouldnt hold the textures for a modern 1080p AAA title.

        carts arent going to happen for the NX. id be shocked if it did, unless they were willing to charge $80+ for each game, though im sure the folks who cant get enough mario or zelda rehashing would gladly pay that.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 3:48 PM

          3DS carts are 8GB. That was 8GB in 2011, now its 32GB+ for the NX in 2016.

          The idea that solid state is somehow unfeasible is asinine. Nintendo has been doing this for years with the most popular console of the current generation, all that's changing here is the memory.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 8:28 PM

        I don't think you can accurately say we don't have the manufacturing resources already in place to make a small simple electrical assembly like a game cart. Those things would be ezmode compared to the other electronic devices that get manufactured by the millions. The metal contacts you mention are just part of the circuit board.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 2:55 PM

      I wouldn't be surprised if they're going the route I think they are, where the NX will be a WiiU+3DS hybrid. Some of their games would end up being similar to the cartridges that the 3DS uses.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 3:27 PM

      good choice if you ask me

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 3:36 PM

      This would be freaking amazing! and what I wanted the NX to have, and even thought they do something like this and bring back the cartridges.

      I really hope its true! Man you even have faster load times off the carts it could own.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 3:51 PM

      I don't think this is remotely true. It's way cheaper to stamp discs and Nintendo is all about dat profit margin.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 3:52 PM

      Just like radio controlled aircraft are now drones, cartridges are now just SSDs.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 3:57 PM

      so what's the NX "gimmick"? VR?

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 3:58 PM

        I hope not.

        I imagine the popular notion of NX being a dual console/handheld is the gimmick. And honestly, that's more than good enough. I'll buy one no matter what because I love Nintendo's experiments, but rolling living room and portable boxes into one would be perfect.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 4:05 PM

          the wii U shit didn't work, I think they know. starfox sucks because of it

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 5:46 PM

            I think Wii U would have caught on if its hardware had parity with PS4/Xbox One-level consoles. I love the GamePad; it's a great idea that a lot of people failed to grasp because, frankly, they expected too much from it. It worked perfectly as a second screen when other family members were using the TV, and as a convenient means of viewing inventories and maps rather than pausing and unpausing the game a bajillion times.

            • reply
              May 8, 2016 11:12 AM

              that's all true, but it does nothing for gaming.
              My kids prefer playing on the pad vs. on the screen

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 6:01 PM

            Don't forget what they did to Kirby and the Rainbow Curse :( I just want to play it on my big screen not on the freaking gamepad.

            I have always disliked the Wii U game pad in the way they envision its use(none menus) and that it took away from the Wii U's hardware $ which is a shame it could of easily = a Xbox One or even a PS4 lvl hardware. Sure give them a award for coming up for something innovative, but if its not practical and not helpful for gamers its a lost cause.

            Yes I do like the Wii U game pad for a quick menu access but that is about all... I am totally cool to pause the game and do it the old school way. That luxury of having a pimp menus system is not worth sacrificing the main consoles hardware aka GPU and CPU in my books its the most important part of a console.

            Question is what did they sacrifice this time, we know its not selling at a loss so I am worried, yes that is good business upfront but it could also put you out of business long term. Who knows...

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 3:58 PM

        My guess is a powerful 3DS that can dock at a station which may give it another bump in horsepower

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 4:01 PM

        Fanboys

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 4:12 PM

          aren't they all like 45 now and don't care

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 6:02 PM

        My feeling is that it's really a unified platform. There will be a traditional console and a handheld (sold separately) and the games developed for the base console will be playable on the handheld and vice versa. There may be limitations, but I would bet that's the gist of it. So essentially, no more SSB for Wii U or SSB for 3DS. It's just Super Smash Bros and works on both. Probably uses some of the Wii U technology to give the handheld better graphics when on the same network as the traditional console and when you're not, the graphics scale down like a PC. Again, maybe some limitations, but consider that everyone is thinking they're going to flash a la the 3DS for the system. Those "cartridges" have save space, and now you can not only do cross-platform play, but take your games and thus your saves with you, no network required.

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 6:07 PM

          That's what I would guess, also. Even if it's not a unified platform, if this rumor is true that it's most likely at least a separate handheld and console instead of a single device. Using cartridges for the physical media for both devices makes a lot of sense.

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 4:00 PM

      Maybe it's like they actually want people to download games and if you have to have physical you pay a premium. Tho that would piss off GameStop

    • reply
      May 6, 2016 4:04 PM

      Regarding all price arguments, note that Nintendo has been selling 8GB 3DS cartridges since 2011 for $20-$40, about 300 million so far.

      Its nuts to me to think that 32GB cartridges in 2017 are somehow unreasonable. SSD and SD card prices have absolutely plummeted over the last six years. It makes so much sense to ditch expensive mechanical points of failure that are the biggest performance bottleneck in any system for solid state.

      • reply
        May 6, 2016 4:33 PM

        no one is saying you can't sell a cart profitably, it's about how much profit you cost everyone by using it instead of a disc

        • reply
          May 6, 2016 4:48 PM

          This will be handled just like with prior handhelds, I'm assuming. It'll potentially have better margins than 3DS since full blown NX games will cost $50-$60 at retail, not $20-$40.

          • reply
            May 6, 2016 4:51 PM

            the comparison isn't 3DS margins though, it's console game margins. Nintendo has to tell Activision and co that their NX ports will have lower margins than the Xbox/Playstation versions. That's not a desirable situation to be in when you're already struggling to get 3rd party support.

            • reply
              May 6, 2016 5:01 PM

              And you know this how? Lots of assumptions are being made there.

              What I know for certain is that Nintendo has been doing this with cartridges and third parties for years. Console games also sell for significantly more than portable games. Whatever increase in media cost might exist relative to optical can easily be absorbed for third parties by that.

              Nintendo has had its feet firmly in solid state since.... forever. They never left it, all that happened is that it finally caught up in price:storage ratio to be feasible for the living room again.

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 5:06 PM

                I am mad at Nintender.

              • reply
                May 6, 2016 5:14 PM

                Well there's the reasonable assumption that if these things cost more to consumers then they also cost more wholesale. And then you can extrapolate from the behavior we see companies make when they know the actual costs involved.If solid state is technically better than discs in every way we have to wonder why no one is using it outside handhelds. We know MS hated discs so much they tried to basically ship without them. And given pushback they ended up on discs not any solid state solution. There're very real cost reasons consoles went with discs, beyond just $/gb (including things like shipping costs).

                Whatever increase in media cost might exist relative to optical can easily be absorbed for third parties by that.

                You keep taking my claims for 'this is a negative' to mean 'this can't be done.' Of course third parties can absorb it. I literally said that multiple times in actual dollar amounts. That's a very real cost to this decision.

                • reply
                  May 6, 2016 5:16 PM

                  And again, Nintendo has shipped almost two billion cartridges in the last 15 years. The only difference is that they will now be able to sell cartridges for $60 instead of $20.

                  I'm sure they have the math figured out.

                  • reply
                    May 6, 2016 5:27 PM

                    no, the difference is they will now sell $60 games with carts instead of discs which involves a higher COGS. From the business side the NX Mario game isn't going to have its per copy profit compared to SMW3DS, it's going to be compared to the per profit copy of the $60 disc based versions on home consoles.

                    • reply
                      May 6, 2016 5:36 PM

                      Which is offset by the fact that they're presumably making a hybrid system. The media format must account for the fact that a portable unit is a core feature, and that buy/trade/resell at retail are market requirements. Cartridges solve this problem as well as ones like optical being a major performance bottleneck.

                      Compromising the NX with technology that doesn't fit its design goals doesn't make sense. Its like saying that the iPhone should have stuck with a physical keyboard instead of a multitouch display because its much cheaper.

                      This is on top of the fact that the console will be cheaper to produce without an optical drive, and the console and games will both be significantly smaller to package and ship. Every millimeter that companies like Apple shave off in packaging amounts to massive amounts in increased volume that they can put in the same shipping container.

                      • reply
                        May 6, 2016 5:44 PM

                        oh please, get off the "I'm pretty much Steve Jobs on the future of tech" shit. If carts don't cost more than discs then sure, have at it, make carts all day. And we'll surely see cart based follow ups from the competition next gen too then. But there're perfectly good reasons to think carts could cost more and that's a real cost to their design decisions. And of course the reason they'd have to use carts in this situation is by their own design.

                        • reply
                          May 6, 2016 5:50 PM

                          Ok then, cost should be the sole factor in all design decisions, let's disregard every other goal that a product has.

                          Give me a break. One reason this is feasible is that high capacity solid state prices are inexpensive enough that its possible. Is it as cheap as optical? No. It is cheap enough while also being magnitudes faster and slot in with the design goal of portability? Absolutely.

                          • reply
                            May 6, 2016 5:59 PM

                            again I have no idea why you're interpreting me pointing out downsides of a plan as absolutes. The cart has upsides. Cost is a potentially large downside. You just got on me for making assumptions about costs and now you're saying the additional costs are absolutely worth it. All I started with was pointing out the scale of costs that people seem to underestimate. People hear $1 more than a disc and think that's not so bad. But that's a decision potentially measured in $100s of millions. Considering the rumors suggest Nintendo doesn't intend to compete on hardware power there's reason to believe things like better IO bandwidth are not things worth $300m to them.

                            • reply
                              May 6, 2016 6:07 PM

                              I never said that cartridges were cheaper, only that there were offsets in packaging/shipping and console BOM.

                              In the end the distribution media needs to work with the physical goals of the target hardware. Optical media has long been dead on PC and it will happen with console as well. The problem is that download-only isn't an option right now, partly because physical reselling/trading/collecting is very important to that market.

                              So here we are, cartridges, and its a place that Nintendo never left. They've shipped billions of them in the modern era. All that's different is that solid state is cheap enough and has enough capacity to hold modern games.

                              In the end the choices seem logical for the physical platform despite the downside.

                            • reply
                              May 6, 2016 10:49 PM

                              I think a lot of people are discounting the additional costs of having a bluray player, which besides the cost of the hardware also incurs a licensing cost to use.

                              Additionally, there is the firmware and software updates for the bluray player itself separate from that of the OS.

                              Overall I think the SD card solution is much more straight forward to implement. It's also makes much more sense assuming it will be handheld or have some handheld/portable capability.

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                  May 6, 2016 8:18 PM

                  I feel like the Microsoft thing is fundamentally different though, that was more about them wanting to take a larger step away from retail and bolster their online XBL services right? And less about any real concerns about discs as a specific type of physical media. Like they weren't fans of physical for games on general.

                  Additionally, the pushback had nothing to do with the discs themselves and from what I understand was mostly about retail implications, second hand sales, and general convenience/usability of physical media in general vs potential limitations of a steam like console based system

                  Going cart on NX could possibly have economic or user convenience that home console mfgs don't have to consider due to the alleged hybrid portable/home nature of the NX.

                  And at a certain point while there is a additional cost on carts, I don't see it as something that will be insurmountable in dev side of things compared to its potential utility benefits in terms of consumer convenience.
                  I don't even think that the cost may even make it to the consumer or even profit margin if they are able to get any additional savings elsewhere on the hardware which again I don't think is necessarily going to mean any significant hits in performance or whatever, it might be that cart readers are cheaper to implement in the hybrid form factor than discs, also maybe more reliable so less chance of failure.

                  I think the bottom line is we simply don't know enough to begin to speculate in any reasonable or realistic manner yet. It could go either way based on any number of metrics or design concerns.

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                    May 6, 2016 9:11 PM

                    Going cart is the result of a portable element, so yeah, user convenience and the form factor are two big reasons.

                    "we have to wonder why no one is using it outside handhelds"

                    High capacity solid state media is finally cheap enough for it to be viable for modern living room games. 32GB SD cards are given away at retail even with huge markup. Whatever Nintendo ends up paying for hundreds of millions of these will be miniscule. Back in 2011 when Nintendo was using 8GB cards in the 3DS this would have been very expensive.

                    Another reason is Blu Ray playback, something Sony and Microsoft make a nominal push for (its really all about streaming these days unless you're a videophile).

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              May 6, 2016 5:16 PM

              How is production of physical games handled? Do companies like Activision or EA handle production of their own disks? Are they free to find their own supplier as long as it meets certain disk standards?

              I wonder if Nintendo has worked with one specific supplier or has a bunch lined up. I'm assuming there is more to a cart than just a normal USB drive so it may not be easy for normal manufacturers to switch over. I'm completely talking out of my ass though.

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                May 6, 2016 5:28 PM

                I'm not sure, that's why I ran through every place the costs could be diffused (consumers, Nintendo, 3rd parties).

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        May 6, 2016 5:49 PM

        Flash cards are just more expensive. Say a game sells 1 million copies, if you can press a Blu-Ray for 50 cents per, and it costs $2 to make a flash drive for the game. You are looking at an additional cost of $1.5 million. That is 1.5 million that could be used to hire a couple extra developers, maybe some additional ad time, or maybe filtered to another game.

        So you need to figure out if the cartridge form factor is worth that increase in cost. And the answer is yes with handhelds because having a spinning disk in a handheld is large, uses a lot of power, and is prone to read errors. With the NX the only reason to go with a cartridge is if you had some form of handheld, whether it is a handheld that you plug in to your TV, or 2 systems that can share the same library.

        The other option suckier would be that Nintendo is being cheap and using the cartridge model to make up for a smaller hard drive in the NX where Nintendo is saving money on the hard drive, and using flash's faster read speed than Blu-Ray. So you save $20 on a NX for the hard drive, which means you would need to sell 10 games for that to become a loss.

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          May 6, 2016 5:59 PM

          Yeah, they're clearly taking the hit on media cost by going with a portable unit. The difference is that they will be able to sell cartridges for 2-3x as much as they did on prior portable systems.

          Going all portable is a constraint but its one that current technology allows for with high capacity solid state media being as inexpensive as it is now.

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      May 6, 2016 5:23 PM

      as long as they fix their retarded digital content policy, IDGAF what they use for physical media

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      May 6, 2016 7:00 PM

      If they release NBA Hangtime I'll buy it.

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      May 6, 2016 11:42 PM

      how big should they be
      physically?

      maybe they could be designed like amiibo?

      would be awesome if each game was a statue

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      May 7, 2016 2:54 AM

      Rumor: Noone is going to buy the Nintendo NX

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      May 7, 2016 5:39 AM

      It's about time. The day they went from carts to discs was the day the fun died.

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      May 7, 2016 6:32 AM

      Who the fuck cares? I'm only interested in the games. And Nintendo make great games. (except for Skyward Sword obviously) Just no enough of them, or too far appart. (when is that next Zelda again?)

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        May 7, 2016 6:46 AM

        Launch

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          May 7, 2016 9:57 AM

          That was a rethorical question to underline how far appart it was from the previous one.

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      May 9, 2016 9:25 AM

      Man, Nintendo dont get it.

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