Rumor: NX Developer Kit Controller Leaks (Update: Not Real)

[Updated on 2/24/16]: FAKE!

It appears that these leaks have been confirmed as fake. The original person who leaked the first photo that featured the white NX controller has posted a video on YouTube showing how he designed it. By proxy, the black controller must be fake as well since it was a direct copy of the white one, but in a different color and slightly different sticks. I had said at the outset of this story that it was a rumor and that I had reservations about initially posting it. It turns out that was for good reason. Still, it was fun to speculate.


[Original Story]:

Late last week Destructoid ran an article with a supposed leaked picture of the controller from Nintendo’s upcoming platform, the NX. We didn’t run the story at the time because there was a vast debate on the legitimacy of the picture. It seemed there was enough questionable evidence to refrain from posting the same rumor again on our site. However, two more pictures of leaked from a different source. Although the controller is a different color in this new leak, it retains the same shape and other features found in the original screenshot. With that being the case, we decided it was time to report on the leak and show off the various pictures of the supposed controller just incase there’s something to this after all.

It’s not secret that hardcore Nintendo fans are chomping at the bit for any morsel of NX news. I’m one of them, and I eagerly search out rumors and speculation. Much of it never reaches Nintendo Times because we don’t want to become a site full of unreliable information. However, where there’s smoke there’s often fire, and now that two separate leaks have occurred in under a week, and some of the other comments we’ve been hearing from other sources, we feel that there’s some merit to taking a look at these supposed controller leaks in more detail.

First up, you may remember that last year Nintendo patented a controller with an oval screen. In those mockups there were pages upon pages of detailed ideas on how the touchscreen could be implemented in different ways. From offering unique viewpoints in a first person shooter, where your gun is attached directly to an analog stick, to unique ways to input letters, it was evident Nintendo put a lot of time and energy into thinking up innovative ideas for this controller patent. The drawings in the patent lacked any physical buttons, instead utilizing context-sensitive buttons on-screen to create game-specific input arrays. For example, you could have the “B” button placed in a different spot depending on the game being played, and even display what it’s used for in that instance. Think of the 3D Zelda games, where the button’s use will change depending on the situation. So, if you’re standing next to a sign the button my change to “Read” whereas if you’re close to a character it might display “Talk”. This could be moved to the controller instead of on-screen.

This patent drawing may end up being the final NX controller.

Now, take a look at the first picture leaked last week. It very closely resembles the patent drawing. In fact, this is one of the red flags that popped up for us because very rarely do Nintendo patents include accurate depictions of actual upcoming hardware. They know that often their patents will be seen by competitors and hit magazines and sites, so when the picture to look almost identical to the patent drawing it seemed very suspicious. It would be easier for someone to take the drawing and make a fake controller after all. The only major difference between the drawing and the picture is the lack of grips on the supposed leak. If you look closely at the picture you will notice that there’s a “B” button right below the right analog stick and a right arrow off to the right. This is an example of the context-sensitive button placement mentioned earlier.

The first NX controller leak.

Internet sleuths everywhere went wild with this picture and ran it through some programs to see if an image program like Photoshop had altered it. It apparently had not. The image on the controller was analyzed and it appears that it came from an Unreal Engine demo, but that the graphics had been zoomed in. This was enough proof for many to decide it had to be fake because it seemed as if the photographer went out of his way to conceal where the image had come from. I was on the fence as to the authenticity of the photo, but leaned toward it being a fake as well.

Today two more pictures from another source of what could be the NX controller surfaced on Reddit. This one is black instead of white and the analog sticks appear to have been replaced with smaller nubs. The basic design is the same, right down to the bottom bezel with what appears to be a camera and then perhaps some black electrical tape covering up the spot next to it. The speakers appear to be the two smalls slits seen on the bottom bezel as well. The headphone jack is on the bottom right of the unit.

Again, these pictures show a controller that looks like the patent drawing. The user who uploaded these pictures to Reddit had this to say about the NX controller:


  • Only the upper ‘nubs’ of the sticks move. The bottom part is static (kind of like the circle pad, but it moves along the bottom ‘sphere’.
  • The rollers on the top feel and look pretty much identical to a mouse scroll-wheel. Though I do don’t believe this will be the final design.
  • Haptic feedback is feels like Apples ‘taptic’ engine. Not like regular rumble. 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom


In addition, he or she clarified that the controller unit is for the NX console. It’s a Dev-Kit, so it’s not the final design and could look slightly different when it finally ships. To add a bit of fuel to the fire, Andy McNamara, the Editor in Chief of Game Informer tweeted:


I had heard that the NX wouldn’t have face buttons, so the leaked pictures match what I was told but was unable to confirm. I am not saying the pictures are real, I am saying they match information I had but couldn’t confirm. To be clear, nothing confirmed.


Now, if you truly want to go off the deep end and into deep crackpot conspiracy theories, one that has bubbled up on Reddit is that these latest leaked photos of the NX controller came from Massive Entertainment, the folks behind The Division. How did this come to light? Well, in one screen you can see the laptop in the upper left of the picture and the keyboard is apparently Swedish. Massive Entertainment is located in Sweden. Then, in the upper right of the same picture you can clearly see a reflection of a barren tree outside the building. Take a look at the Massive Entertainment building and the trees in front of the offices below. They sort, maybe, could match up. Perhaps. I’m not really sold on the “proof”, but it’s entertaining to speculate.

Put on your tinfoil hats!

So, after all is said and done, my thoughts are that this could be a real indication of what the controller for the NX could look like. There will likely be a few changes here and there (look at the original DS shown at the 2004 E3 show and the one released later that year, or the Wii U Game Pad changing from analog sliders to sticks). The picture showing the controller with the Wii U Game Pad off to the side really does a great job of showing how small this new controller is. It would definitely be a sleeker and most likely lighter controller, a much welcomed change from the somewhat bulky and uncomfortable (to some) Game Pad. My biggest concern at this point, if this ends up being legitimate, is the lack of physical buttons on the front of the controller. I fail to see how many games would work well without actual buttons, especially games like Super Mario Bros. where precise button presses are essential to the gaming experience.

Other than that, I really need more information to make a better judgment. We have yet to hear from Nintendo what the NX even is (console, handheld, both?), so instead of hating or loving it, I’ll remain reserved until more is officially announced. I think it could be an interesting device as long as concessions aren’t being made in the gameplay department. Touchscreen gaming on iPhone haven’t resonated well with me at all, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little concerned with the controllers shown in these pictures. I haven’t hated a single Nintendo controller yet, so for now I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

What do you think? Are these pictures the real deal, and if so, what is your reaction? Let us know in the comments section below, or feel free to e-mail me at: and we may read your letter on our next episode of Nintendo Times Radio.

Craig Majaski

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He's currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.

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