In an investor briefing translated to English yesterday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata made a number of interesting comments regarding Wii U, the company’s fortunes, and how the ship might be steadied going forward.
Most notably, Iwata touched on closer integration of consoles and handhelds in the future, with the goal of making them “like brothers in a family of systems.” Nintendo already does this with the 3DS family, so expanding the philosophy to its entire hardware lineup isn’t particular far-fetched. Iwata had the following to say on when and how this might occur.
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.
So theoretically, the next Nintendo console will take the strengths of the Wii U architecture, streamline and improve upon it, and then concoct a handheld architecture based around something similar. Given the ever-closing gap between handheld and home console graphics performance (especially for Nintendo, given their generally underpowered Wii lineup), it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the two platforms could share eShops, sync apps and services, and even play the same blockbuster releases.
Iwata commented further, positing that Nintendo wants to eliminate software droughts caused by hopping between platforms to develop games. A common development ground akin to iOS or Android — or even future handheld and console platforms merging as one device — may help solve the problem.
The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples (iOS and Android). Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future.
I’m genuinely fascinated. As much as I hate to see Nintendo struggle, if the Wii U’s hard times are forcing daring, innovative new initiatives out of Kyoto, then I must admit I’m all for it. Merging a home console with a modernized Game Boy Player, and making the whole thing small enough to carry around and play on its own screens? Sign me up.