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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 Patent

Nintendo cites an advantage to this change is a reduction in size and cost, “Without the optical disk drive, the game apparatus [1] 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 [34].” 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!

Bryan Heraghty

Staff Writer

Avid shooter and platformer fan. Coffee is the only power up I need. In the spare time I have I will listen to more podcasts than has scientifically been deemed healthy. Hit me up on Twitter if you ever want to chat with me about games, tech, or whatever.

  • Iconoclast

    I take this hand-held will get its data via mobile net or internet? I mean otherwise they might have just re-invented the cartridge wheel.

  • Ryan Juel

    I think sony might have beat them to the punch…

  • Haze

    So they remove the disc drive, dooming everyone to their terrible e shop with its bad pricing and policies, removing options to share or rent games, removing backwards compatibility and the physical purchase option some people enjoy for the sake of reducing the price and size of the device, ok.

    But they keep the useless, big, clunky, 100$ tablet controller that only like 4 games ever made proper use of?

    They should have learned from microsoft, they wanted a kinnect with every device but gave up because it was a bad idea.

    Nintendo is coming off a failed system and it already looks like it will be a repeat of the same story.
    They just don’t learn from failure it seems. Maybe they are betting it all on some new spin or gimmick but it better be a good one to make the NX work and be worth it, being released mid way into the other system’s life cycle.

    Personally as WiiU owner I already feel burned for buying a system that is getting replaced so soon.

  • Bloodnok

    Can anyone say “prior art”? It sounds like they just applied for a patent on the steam box. I can’t see Valve letting this one live…

  • Murk

    Would not be surprised if they want this just for anti piracy reasons.

  • Bitterbear

    The Wii Ouya?

  • That flowchart looks like it’s describing a Commodore 64 fast loader.

    And not just prior art: aren’t patents supposed to be “non-obvious”?

  • vivianjames

    I doubt they’ll go for the full digital route.

  • vivianjames

    I really like the PSP Go, I wish Sony didn’t botch the damn thing.

  • SugarFreeTargets

    It’s weird how more and more consumers want larger and better hard drives/SSD’s for privacy and speed. Yet more and more companies want you to use cloud storage for profit.

    The idea of playing games on servers is a cool idea. Because smaller and cheaper hardware can be applied. But with recent events about privacy, not that many people will trust companies that will offer to hold any personal information about you.

    Even companies like CyanogenMod will trick you. They say they care about your privacy, they have encrypted settings, yet they use SELunix as their kernel. A Linux kernel “security” module developed by the NSA themselves!

  • John Quilty

    SELinux was originally developed by the NSA, but it’s source code has been thoroughly vetted over the past 16 years and there’s no real reason to think it’s backdoored compared to anything else.

  • chaoguy

    Not to mention when digital games get taken down on digital-only services, you can “loose the right to access the game”, despite paying for it.

    What if your console dies and you can’t prove you bought the games before?
    What if a developer ends up in legal trouble, and the game has to be modified/taken down without the users consent?

    Give me a dick/cartridge, or give me piracy.

  • アコール

    And make me suffer the hassle with NNIDs and the eShop? Nope.