Wii U, Nintendo Network Details Emerge

Nintendo of Japan had its quarterly earnings meeting with shareholders and some nuggets of information have made its way out. First up, 3DS news.

Nintendo has announced that due to the upswing in 3DS sales worldwide, many more third party games will be released over the course of the next year. In fact, Nintendo estimates that over 200 3DS titles are currently in development. To ensure that gamers don’t become bored with games too quickly, Nintendo is jumping on the DLC bandwagon to add longevity to some of its titles. In addition, Nintendo’s goal is to avoid stagnant periods between software launches. One only has to look at the Japanese 3DS first quarter lineup to see this policy already taking shape, but this same philosophy has yet to be applied successfully in the U.S. where months pass by without a AAA title. Probably one of the biggest pieces of information from the conference is that Nintendo officially announced, “We are planning to release a totally new side-scrolling action Super Mario in 2D as a key title for the Nintendo 3DS in the next fiscal year.” We can assume it might be in the vein of New Super Mario Bros., but at this moment we don’t know any details on the project.

Gamers across the world have been salivating for any new morsels of information regarding Nintendo’s upcoming home console, the Wii U. Luckily, a few tidbits were released, and most of it is great news. As announced prior, this year’s E3 show will be Nintendo’s coming-out party for the Wii U. Iwata confirmed the console will release in time for the year-end sales season in Japan, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. “The company is aiming to firmly complete the development of the entire system and prepare sufficient software so that the Wii U will be at its best at the time of the launch. Needless to say, we have learned a bitter lesson from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS.” It sounds like Nintendo will have a decent variety of launch games and the system will be ready to go from day one (unlike the 3DS where the e-shop in particular wasn’t active until 3 months after launch).

Nintendo has also announced that its upcoming Wii U controller will use NFC (Near Field Communication) – a set of standards to establish radio communication in close proximity. This will make it possible to create cards and toys that can electronically read and write data via non-contact NFC and expand new game play in games (think Skylanders – where you place a toy on the portal and it goes into the game). The ideas here are endless, especially when you consider franchises like Pokemon and Animal Crossing, where Nintendo could make cards or toys come to life in the game. In addition, this technology allows Nintendo to release prepaid cards to make micro payments (no more entering long codes).

The last piece of Wii U news concerns user accounts and online. Much like PS3 and 360, the Wii U will allow multiple users per system, so each player can have his or her own account. The Wii U will allow for the digital download of retail titles, but no plans yet on when or if they’ll implement that since physical retail is a very important part of Nintendo’s business model. All games with an online component will utilize the Nintendo Network, “Whether it?s our first-party titles or third parties? titles, for a number of games, we will actively attempt to achieve compatibility so that our consumers can enjoy our online services that we will deploy under the name of the Nintendo Network.” In other words, it appears Nintendo will have a competent online plan ready at launch for 1st and 3rd party games. Miyamoto cryptically added, “Nintendo Network has to have a totally new concept to be different”.

Last, but certainly not least, Nintendo intimated that they are working with several new, previously unannounced allies and to expect partnerships with third parties to be revealed later this year. Many speculate this has something to do with their online initiative (rumors over the past year had Valve or EA’s Origin service powering Nintendo’s online service), but we have to wait to see what Nintendo is hinting at. Only time will tell what Nintendo’s services and games will actually be, but it sounds like we might get a little more information in March at GDC, and then of course in June where Nintendo unleashes a mountain of information at E3.