Nintendo's NX gaming device a console-handheld hybrid, out 2016: report

Nintendo’s next gaming device will be designed for use both in the living room and outside the home, and is expected to launch in 2016, according to a report.

New, 'industry-leading' chips aim to bring new system in line with competitors' processing power

Shoppers walk under the logo of Nintendo and Super Mario characters at an electronics store in Tokyo on May 7, 2014. According to reports, the next Nintendo system, code named the NX, will be a hybrid of the traditional home console and portable handheld formats. (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP)

Nintendo's next gaming device will be designed for use both in the living room and outside the home, and is expected to launch in 2016, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal wrote Friday that the Japanese gaming company has begun distributing software development kits for its new platform, currently dubbed the NX, to game developers.

"We are increasingly of the idea that Nintendo might launch the NX in 2016 because of the softness of 3DS and Wii U," said David Gibson, an analyst for Macquarie Capital Securities, told the Journal.

Sales of Nintendo's current home console, the Wii U, have lagged significantly behind its competitors, Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. 

However it remains virtually without competition in the dedicated handheld market. Its 3DS system has sold more than 50 million units worldwide since its launch in 2011. A slight refresh of the hardware, the New 3DS, launched earlier this year.

Citing "people familiar with the development plans," the Journal writes that the NX will likely include both a home console and handheld component.

The components would then be used in tandem, with the console connected to a home television. The handheld component could be used with the console or taken on the road and used without it.

The report also suggests the NX will use "industry-leading chips" to catch up to the processing power of the PS4 and Xbox One.

When reached for comment, Nintendo of Canada replied: "As we previously announced, we will not comment further on NX until 2016."

Console-handheld combos are rare

It would be one of only a few times Nintendo or other gaming companies attempted to combine the console and portable markets. Nintendo is well-known for its home consoles, all the way back to the Nintendo Entertainment System, and its iconic portable system the Game Boy.

In the 1990s, the Super Nintendo could connect to the Game Boy with the Super Game Boy peripheral. Sony's PlayStation Vita portable has connectivity with the PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles, like using it to play games on the TV in lieu of a controller.

New games and exclusives for the Vita have slowed to a trickle in recent years, however, vastly outpaced by the 3DS and New 3DS, especially in Asia.

Fans play the upcoming game Yo-Kai Watch for the Nintendo 3DS portable system on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 in New York. (Charles Sykes/Invision for Hasbro, Inc./AP)

The Wii U might give some clues about the NX's design philosophy. It's a home console that connects to the TV, but players use a tablet-like GamePad controller with a second screen.

Some games allow you to play on the GamePad without the use of the TV, but it must be kept within close proximity to the console in your home. The NX might be the system to break that tether.

In the wake of recently announced partnerships with a company that makes mobile games, Nintendo's former president Satoru Iwata assured its long-standing hardcore gaming audience that the NX "is a platform dedicated for video games" in March.

Iwata died in July and was succeeded by Tatsumi Kimishima, formerly the company's managing director and the head of human resources, in September.