A patent for a video game controller filed by Nintendo last year has surfaced online, prompting enthusiasts to speculate about what new item the video game behemoth may be working on.
The patent, first spotted on Twitter and reported by Nintendo Life, was filed in July 2021 and made public in January of this year.
It addresses the design of a new controller, focusing on the device’s innards rather than its exterior. The design was devised to make “an interior structural body of a game controller more compact,” according to the document. As a result, most of the patent’s specifics concern the internal organization of its components and circuits.
However, it offers various technical designs of the controller’s outside, revealing a design that Nintendo has yet to publish. The gamepad’s front contains a D-pad, four buttons, and two shoulder pads on each side, while the back resembles the bulging top half of an N64 controller.
It lacks the three-pronged grip of the N64, analog sticks, and a Start or Menu button.
A vibration mechanism and the presence of a battery compartment are also mentioned in the patent, implying that it is wireless.
There’s also an NFC circuit inside. The controller can communicate with other devices over short distances without an internet connection. NFC is the same technology that allows the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons to scan Amiibos.
Analysis: is an arcade controller on the way?
Several aspects of the patent hint at the potential application of the upcoming design. Its emphasis on delivering a tiny internal structure and a simple front with only a few buttons indicates that it will be a small, barebones controller – precisely the type of gamepad that would fit arcade systems.
Over the last few years, home arcade controllers have witnessed a rebirth in popularity, with gadgets like the 8Bitdo Arcade Stick and the HORI Fighting Stick Mini allowing you to play classic arcade games on the Nintendo Switch using era-appropriate hardware. Nintendo may be developing its arcade controller, albeit the lack of a central joystick suggests it would be aimed at a different set of games than the current devices.
While the top of the controller resembles the top of an N64 controller, the lack of analog sticks and grips indicates that this design is unrelated to Nintendo’s iconic platform. Furthermore, an official N64 wireless controller has already been released; thus, Nintendo has limited room for improvement.
It’s tempting to believe this patent will offer us our first look at the next Nintendo controller, but hold your breath. Patents are frequently obtained based on speculation, allowing companies to claim intellectual property on a design that may never reach the market or be drastically changed before it does.
The extent to which designs can vary can be seen in the abandoned Nintendo Switch Joy-Con patents, which feature everything from a hinged Joy-Con to a clip-on variant.