You should never fully write off Nintendo, the 'Big N' has seen some lows amid the highs they’ve had over the years and seeing poor sales on Wii U has spurned Nintendo to look at ways to improve sales early on in the console’s life-cycle.
The latest battleplan to come from Iwata and co is to bring out their own Near Field Communication (NFC) figures, joining the collectable figures market. A fairly new development in gaming NFC figures are already available with games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity and with the use of peripheral devices allow for physical figures to interact with the video game environment. The word from Iwata is clear cut,
"To establish new and growing areas through the active utilization of character IP, it is important for Nintendo to take risks ourselves and come up with interesting ways to use our character IP.
"In other words, other than using character IP in Nintendo's video game software, we need to start a new business that will someday become one of our core activities."
Nintendo are calling this new business NFP, 'NIntendo Figurine Platform' and they’re going to be revealing more at E3 In June. When you look at how well Skylanders does from the combined sales of game and figurines it makes sense for Nintendo to want to join the race. They have a wealth of intellectual property characters already made and ready to go and seeing Link, Pokemon and Mario figures strewn across the toy shop shelves will no doubt serve to heighten Nintendo’s standing in the public consciousness. It is worth noting however that Disney also have stocks of recognisable characters but are currently a way behind Skylanders in terms of popularity.
As far as the Wii U goes there’s already dormant NFC functionality with the Wii U’s gamepad so rolling out their NFP won’t be too much of a technical headache. The plan is also for NFP to work with 3DS which will require the purchase of some additional tech.
In contrast to the Skylanders NFC approach Nintendo are saying,
“What is especially unique about NFP is that it is not classed as an accessory product of a certain software title but as a platform itself."
"And it has been designed to be compatible with multiple software titles for Nintendo platforms.”
In this way you may be getting more mileage from the purchase of a single figurine compared to the eternal collectability of the Disney and Skylanders franchises. Furthermore and in-line with Nintendo’s release of Pokemon Rumble later this year NFP figures will have player customisation, Iwata notes,
“NFP has a writer function as well as a reader function, so it can not only tell what character figurine is on the Wii U GamePad, but also a compact amount of data unique to each game can be written into it and read from it. That is to say, you will be able to customize your NFP to raise or train your own Nintendo characters, for example.”
With Skylanders and Disney already enjoying their fair share of the NFC cake it’s worth noting that they do so without the necessary purchase of a console. It seems unlikely that people buying into the NFP idea will be quick to pick up the Wii U to play it on when they already have two massive cross-platform NFC franchises to choose from.
Nintendo by their own admissions are more hopeful for NFP success on the 3DS iwata goes on to say
"I understand that some of you may be worried that the market for NFP, a platform that will work with a number of software titles, will not grow large enough when it is compatible only with Wii U."
"If we can make a good use of Nintendo 3DS, which has already sold over 43 million units, however, this assumption will greatly change."
What are you thoughts on all this. Do you think NFP will take off on Wii U? If you’re already gaming on the Wii U would you be tempted to buy into NFP or do you thinking the tech is pushing the console into the youth market GameCube style?