A newly discovered patent from Nintendo reveals the gaming company may be planning to ditch the optical drive in its next console. Thankfully they aren’t planning to make a return to cartridges, like in the pre-GameCube days, but rather forego any kind of drive at all for inserting games. Instead, it seems Nintendo may have finally caught up to the thinking of Sony and Microsoft, and sees a future where games are downloaded over the internet and stored locally.
The patent was originally filed by Nintendo back in February of this year, but became publicly viewable this month. The basic idea is a console with a hard drive and internet connectivity, making downloading the only way to get games. This certainly wouldn’t be a foreign concept that this point, as its something any smartphone or tablet user that plays games on their device would be accustomed to.
There’s no clear indication that the patent is connected with the “NX,” Nintendo’s follow-up console to the current Wii U. However, the February filing date does align nicely with one of Nintendo’s first mentions of the NX in March.
The PSPgo, which some gamers may remember tried a similar strategy as a portable system, with games needing to be downloaded and stored on memory cards, was widely panned by consumers. Then again, things have changed since the Sony handheld was released in 2009, and gamers are much more used to buying games digitally on the current consoles. Either way, a system with no optical drive at all seems pretty risky for Nintendo, a company that has long struggled with hardware sales in the face of the PlayStation and Xbox brands.