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Nintendo Announces NFC Figures, Budget Console and Smartphone Service

After revealing £135-million in losses at its annual financial review, games maker Nintendo has announced ways in which it intends to win back market favour with a selection of new hardware and software product launches – and most surprisingly, a smartphone service. Here’s a rundown on what’s ahead as Nintendo prepares its survival tactics..


Nintendo Figurine Platform (NFP)

Attempting to break into the hardware/software toy market popularised by products like Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Nintendo is planning to release NFP – which combines collectable toys with Wii U console software.

Using the Wii U GamePad and it’s built in NFC – Near Field Communication reader (which thus far has been a largely understated feature on the console) plastic figurines with responsive bases will allow players to expand on software gameplay. Like the predecessors the more figures bought the bigger and better the gaming experience will become, and Nintendo promises at least three titles will be launch to co-operate with the figure line. Figures will also be sold in presentation boxes which will add to the must-have collector value.

Where Nintendo may benefit from this move is that the consumer will already have the NFC platform within the GamePad which is already supplied in the console bundle. Without the expensive cost of a starter or base pack of similar products, Nintendo is free to rake in on the figure line right away and also trade on the reputation of established characters such as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach – characters which over 30 years after their first appearances still appeal to game fans of all ages.

Starting on Wii U this Christmas, the Nintendo Figurine Platform should then reach the portable 3DS, which is also NFC capable, early in 2015.

Nintendo Budget Home System

Despite the losses experienced on the Wii U, Nintendo isn’t prepared to pull a SEGA as far as hardware goes. Not only will the company continue expanding on the current console line-up with games and new products like the Nintendo Figurine Platform but it plans to launch a new home system aimed at gamers on a budget.

Little information has been revealed about the new hardware, only that it’s officially going to happen to approach a currently untapped area of the market and software will be developed specifically for the console intended for less experienced and less demanding players – this one won’t be for hard-core gamers.

Artist’s impression of a redesigned NES.

We’re hoping it bears retrospective resemblance to our childhood buddy the NES, taking a leaf out of the Virtual Console play book and brings back the simplistic charm and appeal of Nintendo gaming before the company started trying to run alongside the big guns like the PlayStation and Xbox brands.


Mario Kart 8 PC and Smartphone Service

Probably the most interesting of Nintendo’s announcements may be that it will be launching a mobile service after years of denying smart devices as a viable direction for its product. The service is currently titled Mario Kart TV and it will be available on both smartphones and PC via the internet and will allow players of the soon to be released Mario Kart 8 for Wii U to record, replay and share footage of their races.

Using a Nintendo Network ID – or even without one – gamers can log in to share scores socially on a global Mario Kart 8 leader-board as well as find out tips, tricks and discovered shortcuts which are shared amongst racers. We’d think with the arrival of Mario Kart 8 on May 30th the service will go live at some time just before.

So it’s not exactly the move to mobile gaming we’d think will eventually be essential for Nintendo to move forward, but here’s the first sign that the company is at least acknowledging the potential of pocket smart devices to get enhance its product range.

What do our Gadget Helpline readers think about these Nintendo product announcements? Is the company now looking desperate in the wake of another bad financial year, or do they have a well-planned strategy in place to grab that much-needed 1-Up?