It’s not easy being Nintendo right now. Their stocks are tumbling, their profits are almost non-existent and no one is buying the Wii U. Once again, Nintendo is going to need to adapt to a new gaming climate. And the key to that evolution might be in the handheld market once again.
When asked by an investor whether Nintendo was planning to take advantage of their strong handheld sales to create hardware that utilised next-gen tech with a portable focus, and if Nintendo was even able to afford such development, CEO Satoru Iwata responded with the following:
Last year Nintendo reorganized its R&D divisions and integrated the handheld device and home console development teams into one division under Mr. Takeda. However, because of vast technological advances, it became possible to achieve a fair degree of architectural integration. We discussed this point, and we ultimately concluded that it was the right time to integrate the two teams.
Also, as technological advances took place at such a dramatic rate, and we were forced to choose the best technologies for video games under cost restrictions, each time we developed a new platform, we always ended up developing a system that was completely different from its predecessor. The only exception was when we went from Nintendo GameCube to Wii.
However, I think that we no longer need this kind of effort under the current circumstances. In this perspective, while we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture. It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.
Still, I am not sure if the form factor (the size and configuration of the hardware) will be integrated. In contrast, the number of form factors might increase. Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform.
Apple has a common platform called iOS. Another example is Android. Though there are various models, Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models. The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples.
Too long, didn’t read? Well no worries, because the gist of what Iwata had to say, is that Nintendo knows that it needs to adapt with the times. Nintendo has a massive advantage when it comes to handheld gaming, having built an empire on three decades of Gameboy and DS systems, culminating in the current portable king known as the 3DS.
That’s something that has continued onto the Wii U as well with the massive screen of the GamePad controller. I love that controller. Hell, I’d pay cash for something similar to that device that allowed me to play 3DS games and more Wii U games when I’m on the go.
While that idea isn’t what Iwata and Nintendo have in mind, the idea of a new piece of tech with a far more adaptable operating system opens up all new possibilities.
Naturally though, that tech would need to be downsized, but a fusion is more than possible. Right now, I don’t think Nintendo knows how to leverage the Wii U console as a major player that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sony PlayStation 4 and even the Xbox One.
But they sure as hell can dominate the mobile and handheld scene if they went in that direction, something that I have no complaints about.
Last Updated: February 4, 2014