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Nintendo NX may revert to cartridges for games

The mysterious Nintendo NX may see Nintendo return to using cartridges rather than optical media.

That's according to Taiwanese site Money-Link, which reports that Macronix, a manufacturer of "non-volatile memory", expects a revenue increase coinciding with the launch window of Nintendo's next console.

Macronix isn't a name known to most players but the company has a long history with Nintendo. It produces the cartridges currently used by the handheld 3DS console family, and has worked with the gaming company since at least 2001.

Per a translation of Money-Links' report by Screen Critics, the company "suggested that as Nintendo had just announced it will release a new generation console in March next year, and the console will be launched at the same time in Japan, America and Europe, ROM sales are expected to increase in the latter half of this year, and it will have a large growth potential."

Macronix is also testing a line of 32 nanometre ROM chips. 3DS cartridges are produced to a 75nm standard, so these newer chips are likely to be for something else. A 32nm chip could, hypothetically, store far larger games too, which could be perfect for the NX's needs. Macronix's expectations for a spike in demand for physical memory storage could also support rumours from last summer that the NX would be disc-less.

If true, this wouldn't be the first time Nintendo has shunned disc-based media. When the rest of the console market was shifting to CD-ROM based media with the launch of the original PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, Kyoto-based Nintendo stuck with cartridges for the N64. Even after switching to optical media with the GameCube, the company has avoided standardised formats – the GameCube itself used a proprietary 8cm diameter miniDVD, and neither the Wii nor the Wii U has embraced DVD or Blu-Ray as multimedia formats, keeping the machines dedicated gaming platforms.

Nintendo remains tight-lipped on what the Nintendo NX actually is, but recently confirmed a March 2017 global launch, with promises of more information on the hardware after E3 2016.

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