TOKYO— Nintendo Co. has begun distributing a software development kit for its new NX videogame platform, people familiar with the matter said, suggesting the company is on track to introduce the product as early as next year.
The kit is used by third-party software developers to modify existing games for the platform or create new ones. Videogame console makers such as Nintendo like to have popular game titles ready when they start selling new devices.
Nintendo’s current flagship products are the Wii U, a console typically used in the living room, and the portable 3DS device. Both have been out for several years, leading analysts to predict that the Kyoto-based entertainment powerhouse will move fairly swiftly to bring out the NX.
“We are increasingly of the idea that Nintendo might launch the NX in 2016 because of the softness of 3DS and Wii U,” said David Gibson, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities.
A Nintendo spokeswoman said the company plans to disclose details of NX next year.
Square Enix Co. said in July that it planned to make the latest version of its blockbuster role-playing game Dragon Quest for the NX. That version, called Dragon Quest XI, is also planned for the 3DS and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4.
The exact shape of the NX hardware isn’t yet clear. People familiar with the development plans said Nintendo would likely include both a console and at least one mobile unit that could either be used in conjunction with the console or taken on the road for separate use. They also said Nintendo would aim to put industry-leading chips in the NX devices, after criticism that the Wii U’s capabilities didn’t match those of competitors.
Nintendo’s former president, Satoru Iwata, said in March that NX “is a platform dedicated for videogames.” Mr. Iwata died in July, and his post was assumed in September by Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who served as one of Mr. Iwata’s top lieutenants at Nintendo.
Mr. Kimishima is expected to carry forward the strategy of Mr. Iwata, a legendary figure for many videogame fans. In the months before his death, Mr. Iwata laid out plans to put Nintendo characters in games for mobile devices under a partnership with DeNA Co. and made a deal with amusement park operator Universal Parks & Resorts, which is part of Comcast Corp.
“Nintendo is no longer just a traditional videogame company,” said industry veteran Hirokazu Hamamura, a director at Kadokawa Dwango Corp., which publishes magazines about videogames.