Update: So basically, my guess was 100% wrong. Nintendo's new system, officially named Nintendo Switch, will use cartridges. Let's check out this trailer and then read Luke be flat-out wrong in his predictions.
Last week, a patent that Nintendo filed back in February was published for the whole techno-geek world to see, and it appears to be for a new game console. This has generated quite a bit of speculation as to what the Big N has up its sleeve for the next generation. Could this be the "NX" of legend? Well yeah, probably.
Let’s jump to the most interest tidbit: As NeoGAFers pointed out, the device has no optical disk drive. That means no game disks for this new Nintendo system. There is an internal hard drive, plus memory card slots, but no disks. (No word yet on whether there will be a Robot Operating Buddy or conga/bongo peripherals.)
So what does this mean for the future of Nintendo games? Will the console play only downloadable games? Will Nintendo debut their own game streaming service? Could this be a return to good old game cartridges?
If I had to guess—and I pretty much do—I would bet that Nintendo's next system will abandon all physical media and adopt a completely digital method of distribution. All downloadable games: no disks, no cartridges. I imagine that Nintendo has learned with the 3DS and Wii U that there's a lot of money to made—and overhead to cut—from using digital distribution. Even with their less than impressive history with online play, it makes sense to ditch the plastic and go digital.
Actually, I just recently purchased a Wii U myself. When my wife saw the new system, she expressed surprise it had a disk drive at all. Considering the Wii U does not play DVDs or Blu-Ray disks, and the fact that games can be downloaded directly onto the hard drive, she didn't think the disk drive served much a purpose. And that reaction makes lot of sense. Heck, our Macbook is nearly two years old and it doesn't have a disk drive.
In today's Internet Age, when Steam delivers games right to your computer without you having to go outside, why should a game company front the expense of printing physical disks anyway? And why should consumers buy them? I know their are collectors who like to have physical media, something to hold in their hands and display on a shelf. But Nintendo has that base covered as well. Have you seen Amiibo yet?