Skip to main content

Nintendo's Next Console Will Be Android-Based (Report)

Now here's a surprise. Just months after Nintendo announced its upcoming foray into smartphone games, the Japanese games giant is now rumored to be using Android as the base of its next home console, currently codenamed NX.

This rumor comes via a report from Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei (translated by Kotaku), citing an insider familiar with Nintendo. The company is purportedly considering an Android-based console in order to attract third-party developer support (something the Wii U currently lacks), as well as to allow for games to be developed for both the console and mobile at once.

MORE: Best Wii U Games

While it'd be a huge first for Nintendo, the NX would be far from the only Android-based games console. Devices such as the Ouya, the new Nvidia Shield and Razer's upcoming Forge TV all use a version of Google's OS on the big screen, offering a mix of standard Android apps as well as a few beefier games that wouldn't run on most phones or tablets. 

When Nintendo first announced plans to develop smartphone games earlier this year, the company seemed to suggest that those games would be bite-sized experiences that could entice players to check out its console offerings. If this Android-powered NX rumor holds true, however, Nintendo could be looking to go deeper than that by offering a full ecosystem of games that can work across both console and mobile. Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata did, after all, say that the NX would feature a "brand new concept" when the system was first announced.

Nintendo and mobile partner DeNA are already confirmed to be working on some sort of subscription service that runs across PC, mobile and home systems, so the prospect of cross-compatible games doesn't seem all that farfetched. The first mobile game developed by the two companies is due out this year, as disclosed in a recent financial meeting. 

Nintendo's Wii U (released in 2012) has enjoyed some high-profile exclusives, including last year's Super Smash Bros. and the just-released shooter Splatoon, but the system's library has a scarcity of blockbuster third-party games. There's no telling if launching an Android console could fix that, but considering that developers have brought major triple-A hits such as Half Life 2 and Portal (and soon, Borderlands: The Pre Sequel and Resident Evil 5) to Nvidia's Android-based Shield, having access to Google's software ecosystem could certainly help.

While the promise of an Android-based NX is still just speculation at this point, Kotaku points out that Nikkei correctly predicted 2012's release of the Nintendo 3DS XL, as well as this year's news about Nintendo's mobile games. Nintendo has said that it has no plans to discuss the NX at E3 2015 later this month, but we expect to learn plenty about its upcoming Wii U and 3DS games during its June 16 Nintendo Direct showcase.

Mike Andronico is an associate editor and resident Nintendo enthusiast at Tom's Guide. Follow Mike @MikeAndronico. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+