Nintendo has filed a patent for a console that has no optical disk drive. In other words, it does not have a slot for physical media.
The patent, filed February 10, 2015 and published August 22, 2015, showed games were stored on a hard drive and references using “high-speed communication such as ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) or optical communication.” It then continues reasoning, “When a game program is obtained through communication, a user can enjoy playing a game using a game apparatus without purchasing a recording medium such as an optical disk.”
Nintendo cites an advantage to this change is a reduction in size and cost, “Without the optical disk drive, the game apparatus  can realize reduction in cost, size and the like compared to a game apparatus provided with an optical disk drive.”
The device can also read and write data through a card slot that can read inputs “such as an SD memory card.” Nintendo may also be considering bringing back the Wii U’s touch screen for this console’s controller, saying an operation can be constituted by “a push button, a cross key, an analog stick, a touch panel or the like.”
This patent seems to suggest Nintendo has plans for an all digital console, or at least the option of one. No optical drive could also hint at a cartridge focus or even using memory cards as the physical versions.
Another possibility is that Nintendo is looking into creating a streaming service. We saw earlier this year Nintendo had big plans in line for a cross platform strategy with Wii U, 3Ds, NX, PC, and Mobile. The patent could well suggest the capabilities of the NX, but as Nintendo has vowed to be tight lipped on the project for now, we have little to go on but guessing.
This console may also feature backwards compatibility like Nintendo’s previous consoles have. Language used in the patent references a “display unit” in the controller that “displays an image based on the received image data on the display unit .” In otherwords, depending on what’s happening in-game, ala the Wii U’s touch screen. This could speculate that the console could support Wii U software.
Patents sometimes go nowhere, so consumers should hold off from collectively holding their breath. However, the language used in the patent may suggest they plan to move forward with this, claiming priority, and have been working on this project for quite awhile.
This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority of the prior Japanese Patent Application No. 2014-030612, filed on Feb. 20, 2014, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
The patent had been spotted by NeoGAF user Rosti and showed schematics of a game console that lacked any sort of optimal disk drive.
What are your thoughts on the patent? Would you be excited for an all-digital Nintendo console? Would it be surprising that Nintendo would be the first of the big three to institute such a dynamic shift? Do you buy digital or physical, and why? Let us know in the comments below!