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In recent days there have been some interesting observations around the web, namely that the current timeline for reveal-to-release of the Nintendo NX could be the shortest in the company's history. That's assuming the system arrives in March 2017 as planned, and if you also disregard some mid-generation hardware iterations - for example in recent times the 3DS XL and New Nintendo 3DS had quick turnarounds. If you consider 'new-gen' reveals, however, it's a valid point.

As we creep towards October the impatience is certainly growing online - as we've jokingly referenced before now, the poor Nintendo social media teams are getting bombarded with "where's NX" replies to everything they do. Predictably there are frequent claims of announcement date leaks as well (which we've mostly ignored here), with some swearing blind that it was going to be dropped last week; that didn't exactly work out for those sources.

In any case the tension is building, and while we've all been waiting there have been some interesting perspectives on the Nintendo strategy with NX. Ever since earlier in the year when it was confirmed to be absent at E3, followers of the company have been chewing it over - when is the best time to reveal the system? We've already considered how Nintendo could reveal it, but now we'll consider the pros and cons of the ongoing secrecy and delay unveiling the hardware.

Pros

A lot of eyes are on Nintendo
A lot of eyes are on Nintendo

A continual increase in hype and anticipation

Whatever the actual logic behind this slightly surprising wait for a reveal of the concept - never mind the nitty gritty of release date, pricing, launch games and so on - it's certainly building anticipation. This is most definitely a double-sided coin (we cover the other side below), but on the positive side it's got a lot of Nintendo enthusiasts talking about the system.

This is only a good thing, it should be added, if the eventual reveal meets expectations. Yet at the very least Nintendo has the focus of a number of interested followers, some of whom may have drifted away in recent times as Wii U - in particular - lost momentum. With snippets and comments from the likes of Ubisoft and The Pokémon Company, too, the big N is seeing interest in the smallest of details, which is a sure-fire way to build excitement.

Scope for a short, aggressive marketing plan to win headlines

Another key point to consider is that the world of consumer products and marketing, in particular, is continually evolving and changing. Established models and strategies for major reveals and product changes are always in flux, with social media, online shopping and more prompting big changes in recent years. The old cycle of a reveal, a protracted build-up and eventual release isn't necessarily the only way to go, especially when you have the brand power of Nintendo.

On the extreme end of the scale we have the approach taken by smart device companies, with Apple naturally being the most high profile. Hardware can arrive shortly after the reveal, with pre-orders opening almost immediately after consumers have seen a gadget for the first time. To be clear, a turnaround of a month of so is surely too quick for a gaming system - smartphones and tablets are very different in that sense - but in an online-centric world where short memories are the norm, condensing the reveal-to-release cycle isn't without its merits.

If, for example, there are just 3-5 months between an initial unveiling and a release, Nintendo will have a lot of material to work with when promoting the system and keeping it in the headlines. With so much information to be shared there's scope to command a lot of attention on a weekly basis. In the battle for social and online media space, that could be an irresistible possibility for Nintendo.

Reggie will have less time to pick his launch day suit
Reggie will have less time to pick his launch day suit

Keeping the wait short for early adopters

It's been argued that the long wait for announced hardware to actually hit stores, ie the 'usual' way of releasing a new generation of console, is no longer the best way. As mentioned above, the attention span of consumers is shorter than ever, which is a condition of the times. When it comes to entertainment and ways to spend disposable income we've never had so much choice - what was hot yesterday has been replaced by something equally distracting today. It's getting harder and harder to hold the public's attention.

When a reveal comes, there's merit to a rapid turnaround of just a few months on pre-orders, while the aforementioned aggressive marketing can continue to earn more orders. Some of the enticing build-up of an extended wait will be lost, of course, but on the flipside knowing an exciting and shiny new system is close brings a buzz of its own.

Cons

The 'N64 kid' hadn't experienced the horrors of Mission: Impossible on the system at this stage
The 'N64 kid' hadn't experienced the horrors of Mission: Impossible on the system at this stage

Crowded marketing and impossible expectations

Much of what's above has potential negative sides; such are the disruptive, frantic times in which we live. The longer we wait to see NX, the more wild and wacky some expectations grow; we've seen some beauties, as imagination runs wild and speculation gets out of control. Every day someone has an uncle that works for Nintendo saying the NX will be revealed a month ago, that it's more powerful than the Sun itself, or transforms into Optimus Prime to fight the evils of the world. There's plenty of excitement and we're exaggerating, but in some cases the wait has fans imagining the moon on a stick, which no system can ever live up to.

That aside, the 'aggressive marketing' we've mentioned as a possibility can also go wrong if the messaging is off base. We only need to look back at the build-up and launches of the original 3DS and then Wii U to see how early marketing can fall apart, where consumers are confused by a system or unsure of its merits. Ultimately the system's concept will be key in whether it grabs the public's interest, but the advertising and communication of the brand will also be key. A short marketing window can be a powerful thing, but the tone and content of the message has to be spot on.

Limited pre-launch time for 'Indie' developer access to dev kits

As we've already seen this year, there are successful and respected Indie developers that have been frustrated at the secrecy around NX. How can they consider supporting it if they have no idea what it is? To be fair to Nintendo it's between a rock and a hard place - share the system with lots of developers and it will leak, don't share it and the wait gets longer for prospective support. After all, there are limits to how quickly developers can port a title.

Logistics will be key, ultimately. The extended period from announcement to release for Wii U ensured that a good half dozen solid 'Indie' games arrived with the eShop on launch day. That's still possible if Nintendo has been dealing with specific developers already, but for those out of the loop they'll need to go through the process of talking to Nintendo, securing dev kits, figuring out how to use them, then going through lotcheck and so on. It will be fascinating to see how the eShop shapes up when NX arrives, and how many developers have had the opportunity to target it early.

The infamous GamePad leak in 2012
The infamous GamePad leak in 2012

Risk of leaks from developers, manufacturing and more

Tying into the above point, the closer we get to an announcement the more fraught the scenario of leaks becomes. Plenty of reports have been based upon relatively solid sources in the past few months, though full confidence will only be possible with the formal reveal. Yet the longer Nintendo waits while development units and manufacturing presumably go up a gear, the greater the chance of leaks.

There are a lot of fake images flying around, of course, but eventually a real one could drop. Many likely remember when an employee of TT Games posted a photo of the finalised Wii U GamePad before E3 2012 (above), which showed how the controller had evolved since the initial E3 2011 reveal. That was a studio that was in early with the technology because it was working on the system-exclusive LEGO City: Undercover. Based on what we understand from follow-ups and enquiries some mock-ups and illustrations in reports we've covered are relatively accurate, but they're naturally second-hand and potentially from units that will have changed by the time the final design is manufactured.

Yet with Nintendo standing by its March release window at present, reports of manufacturing starting up are not only feasible, but necessary if that is the target roll-out for the system. Add dev kits to that, and the danger of a real photo of the unit coming out grows day by day. Nintendo seems to have clamped down on leaks (as appeared to be the case with little coming out ahead of the last Nintendo Direct) but it pushes its luck as time passes.


Those are some thoughts, in any case, on the positives and negatives of the ongoing silence around the Nintendo NX. It does feel like we're reaching a tipping point where Nintendo has to say something, and hopefully not that it's delayed. Whether that'll happen within hours, days or weeks is anyone's guess.