Will Nintendo's next video game console be the first in 15 years to forgo optical disc drives? An unusual patent application published by the USPTO suggests so.
A United States Patent and Trademark Office application, filed in February, published in August and posted to NeoGAF, contains a number of unusual statements about an unnamed Nintendo design.
The game system described by Patent Application 20150231511 "is not provided with an optical disk drive," it says.
If this is Nintendo's next machine, codenamed NX, it would be the first Nintendo home console without optical media since 2001's GameCube and its miniDVD drive.
The widespread adoption of high-speed internet is a major factor behind the design decision.
"In recent years, high-speed communication such as ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) 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," reads the document.
"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."
The jettisoning of optical media could indicate that Nintendo is embracing an all-digital future.
Encouraging its fans to rely on a centrally controlled app store might be a bold move in the world of consoles. Even so, it's par for the course on iOS and Nintendo has been an eager student of the mobile scene, partnering with Japanese mobile gaming firm DeNA at the time of its NX announcement.
As well as outlining controllers that have built-in displays, a concept found in Wii U GamePads, the patent also includes provisions for a memory card slot and two speed modes for the device's hard drive.
The presence of a card slot has led to speculation that Nintendo will use memory cards, introduced to its handheld line in 2004, as an innovative and powerfully nostalgic crossover format for the NX. That said, the application refers to games stored on an internal hard drive, not on cards, having obtained them via download.
Another school of thought views the Nintendo NX as a family of related consoles rather than one discrete machine, with the patent referring to one variant whose optical drive is sold separately; yet another interprets the filing as being for a revised Wii U, or game streaming device for existing Wii U owners.
A more complete NX reveal is expected in 2016.