A leaked survey conducted on behalf of Nintendo contains some interesting details on the company’s next-generation console, assuming that the leak is legitimate — and answers some of our questions about what kind of hardware the company wants to ship in the Nintendo NX.
The leak comes from Liam Robertson, a gaming enthusiast and fan of digging up information on never-released games.
It’s a bit hard to read, so here’s the bullet points:
- Exclusive game franchises featuring Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and more
- Connect with other Nintendo players around the world via the Nintendo Network
- Gameplay flows between Nintendo NX console and Nintendo NX handheld device
- Earn and share gaming achievements, triumphs, and defeats with your gaming friends and the Nintendo gaming community
- Surf the Web or make video calls on your TV
- Support 4K/60fps streaming
- Gameplay graphics at 900p/60fps
Most of these are standard promises for any console debuting in 2016-2017, but there are two worth particular attention. The first is the promise that the NX will be capable of streaming 4K TV at 60 FPS, the second is the 900p / 60 FPS target gameplay target.
Nintendo’s target hardware
The sheet also notes that the NX box would contain an HDMI cable. If the console is going to be capable of streaming content or games at 4K/60 FPS, that means it supports HDMI 2.0. That’s significant, because AMD doesn’t currently have a GPU with HDMI 2.0 capability, and AMD is generally believed to be designing whatever custom SoC the NX will use. This suggests that Nintendo’s target AV capabilities may be a bit stronger this time around, though the survey makes no mention of any kind of optical disk drive or Blu-ray / DVD playback ability.
The second major point is the 900p/60 FPS. I’ve seen multiple others hone in on this and use it to imply that the hardware inside the NX will be no more powerful than what we see in the Xbox One and PS4 today. Obviously we don’t know yet if this document is real, and if it is real, we don’t know if the 60 FPS target is an absolute must-have, or just Nintendo’s hoped-for goal. Assuming that it’s a hard target, it would mean the NX packs hardware at least as powerful as either current console.
While there are a number of games that can maintain 60 FPS on the Xbox One and PS4 today, the list of titles comes with caveats attached. Many 60 FPS games for both consoles are either remakes or ports, and several more use dynamic resolution scaling to maintain their target performance. High profile games like Fallout 4 and Just Cause 3 still use a 30 FPS target, while Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 managed 30-45 FPS in the single-player campaign but reserved 60 fps for multiplayer.
In other words: The Xbox One and PS4 can offer 60 FPS, but the majority of games that do are either less visually complex or run at lower resolutions to achieve it. If Nintendo can deliver a constant 60 FPS at 900p in the NX’s entire library, it may pull ahead of its competitors. If it ends up putting an asterisk and a “best effort” next to that bullet point, it won’t be worse off.
Nintendo has already said that its new console will be a clean break from the previous era, and I think that’s a smart move. The NX is launching much earlier in Sony and Microsoft’s current console lifecycles than the Wii U did relative to the Xbox 360 and PS3, and that should help Nintendo even the odds without being immediately supplanted by next-generation launches from its two rivals. We still have big questions about the NX controller and its capabilities, but the console’s performance targets should be at least as good as what we’re seeing from the Xbox One and PS4.
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