Nintendo Co., Ltd has filed a patent in the United States for a gaming system that has no optical disc drive. This is presumably relating to Nintendo’s mysterious upcoming system, the NX. For the time being, little is known about its specs, and that will likely remain the case until next year. You may recall that the late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata had said they will not talk about it until next year. The patent document describes a controller with a display screen (sounds reminiscent of the Wii U Gamepad), and speed control processing.
Nintendo’s patent includes a primitive diagram of the main components for the device. It shows an internal (probably magnetic) hard drive, as well as a connector for an external hard drive. The system appears to support 4 controllers, and has a card slot. This could mean that games will come on flash cards, or it may just use flash cards as an extra storage medium. The presence of an internal magnetic hard drive implies that there would likely be a different handheld companion for the system. This is because you would not want a magnetic hard drive in a handheld system as these drives can suffer head crashes when subjected to movements (especially sudden movements, so dropping your handheld could kill the internal hard drive). So it seems unlikely this system would double as a handheld in and of itself.
If Nintendo’s future games are purchased on flash cards, this could be a good thing seeing as how optical disc drives have the bad habit of being more prone to breaking down due to their heavy reliance on moving parts. This would be a plus for a couple of reasons. Flash cards are much smaller than large CDs for disc drives, so you can store a lot more in a lot less space in your cabinet. And as mentioned, you don’t have to worry about your disc drive failing you. Trust me, I’ve had it happen to me. It’s not cool when that happens!
There is a possible dark side though. Should Nintendo do away with physical media entirely and rely on online purchases only, some players may not like this. This seems a bit impractical though, as that would mean the system would require a much larger internal hard drive, or force you to add an external drive to have room for all of your games. This would not be a good thing. The 32GB of storage space in the Deluxe Wii U would not be enough at all then, whereas it is plenty in the case of the Wii U since most of the game data is relegated to the game discs (unless you buy tons of stuff from the eShop of course).
Whatever your opinion, we will likely not hear anything too substantive from Nintendo on the NX until next year. In the meantime, you can check out more detailed information on this patent here.