Optical discs are viewed as an outdated medium, at least in terms of PC gaming. More often than enough, PC games are usually distributed over online platforms, such as Steam. Consoles like the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One continue to use optical media, as also does Nintendo's Wii U.
Rumours so far claimed the upcoming Nintendo NX could hit the market entirely with a slot or drive for media, as games would be distributed online. New rumors originating from Japan now claim the Nintendo NX will throw out an optical drive and instead use cartridges as storage media. Only handheld consoles are currently using such cartridges.
The reports are based on Macronix' earnings outlook. The company supplying ROM chips for Nintendo's 3DS expects revenues to increase next year, in the same time frame Nintendo will be launching the NX. Macronix' outlook is being seen as a confirmation the Nintendo NX could use cartridge modules. Analysts suspect that Macronix is testing new ROM chips made in the 32 nm process. The cartridges used for the 3DS are made in the 75 nm process, and offer a maximum of 8 GB storage. Thus, the new cartridges won't be for the 3DS, but would instead match the higher memory requirements of a traditional console like the NX.
Macronix has been stuck in a hard place as demand for cartridges for Nintendo's handheld consoles has been decreasing. The supplier announcing its problems will come to an end next year certainly is big news. The situation is said to improve already in the third quarter 2016 - when manufacturing of NX modules could start. Macronix' outlook also matches Nintendo's previous statement it won't be selling the NX at a loss. Throwing out an optical drive would naturally reduce the manufacturing cost. In the end, one will have to wait until Nintendo launches its NX console.