In July 2021, the patent was filed, and it was made public in January of this year, through Twitter and Nintendo Life.
A new controller is covered, although the focus is on the device’s innards rather than its outside. The design was intended to “make a gaming controller’s internal structural body more compact,” according to the paper. There are a lot more internal details in the patent’s description than there are external ones.
It also provides various technical sketches of the controller’s outside, displaying a design that Nintendo hasn’t before shown. Front of the controller contains a D-pad, four buttons, and two shoulder pads on each side, while the rear looks like the top half of an N64 controller.
There are no analogue sticks, no Start or Menu buttons, and no three-pronged grip.
Additionally, the patent cites a vibration mechanism and a battery compartment, which would indicate that the device will be cordless.
There’s also an NFC circuit in there. This will let the controller to communicate with other devices over short distances without the need for an internet connection. Amiibos may be scanned with the Nintendo Switch’s joy-cons via the NFC technology.
It’s possible that an arcade controller may be released in the future
Several elements in the patent hint to the intended use of the next design. Incorporating a few basic buttons on the front and emphasising a modest internal structure, this controller looks like the kind you’d find in an arcade system: barebones.
The 8Bitdo Arcade Stick and the HORI Fighting Stick Mini, which let you to play vintage arcade games on the Nintendo Switch with era-appropriate hardware, have enjoyed a revival in popularity over the last few years. The absence of a central joystick suggests that the controller is aimed at a different segment of games than the current devices, although Nintendo may be developing its own arcade controller.
An N64 controller’s upper portion resembles this design’s top half, but the lack of analogue sticks and the absence of grips suggest this is not a design for Nintendo’s classic platform. In addition, Nintendo has already created an official N64 wireless controller, leaving little room for improvement.
As tempting as it may seem, it’s wise to keep your enthusiasm in check and not become too excited about this patent. To be able to claim intellectual property rights on designs that may never reach the market or that may have undergone significant revisions by that time, patents are often obtained on speculation.
In the abandoned Nintendo Switch Joy-Con patents, which feature anything from a hinged Joy-Con to a clip-on version, you can see just how far ideas may go.
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