A patent application filed by Nintendo in February could point to some of the fundamental design decisions that will shape the NX.
Key amongst them is that the new device, spotted by Neogaf, does not include an optical disc drive. What is mentioned is a card slot, so we could be looking at digital downloads stored on swappable flash memory or even, as many on the internet seem to be clamouring for, a return to good old-fashioned cartridges.
Also mentioned is a screen for the controller, meaning that the NX may not be as big a departure from the Wii U as some would have hoped for and believed. It will, however, include a hard drive, which most certainly is a departure from the Wii U.
A stationary game apparatus, comprising: an internal hard disk drive storing a program and/or data; a communication unit transmitting/receiving a program and/or data via a network; and a processor executing a program stored in the hard disk drive to perform game processing, wherein the game apparatus is not provided with an optical disk drive,” the patent application reads.
In recent years, high-speed communication such as ADSL or optical communication has widely been spread. Such high-speed communication is utilized to allow a server apparatus or the like to distribute a game program to a game apparatus. When a game program is obtained through communication, a user can enjoy playing a game using a game apparatus without purchasing a recording medium such as an optical disk.”
Microsoft has previously admitted that it put serious thought into making Xbox One a digital-only console.