With the Wii U flailing like a drowning victim, unwittingly pulling its rescuer down into the abyss with them, Nintendo needs something big in order to save its wayward console. The company is not diverging too far from its traditional strategies of leveraging its established characters with gameplay mechanical gimmicks. At Nintendo’s financial briefing yesterday, president Iwata outlined a plan to introduce NFC figures in the vein of the explosively popular Skylanders and Disney Infinity, and games designed with them in mind. The figures, demonstrated with Mario, will be usable across multiple games, linking to saves and sharing information between them.
The new figures and games are collectively called NFP, a nested, multi-use acronym which stands for both NFC Featured Platform and Nintendo Figurine Platform, and will debut at this year’s E3 Conference. Also slated for E3 reveal is an IR reader for the 3DS, which will allow the toys to also be compatible with the far more successful handheld.
Despite a lukewarm reception to its first attempt at using the Wii U’s NFC capabilities with Pokémon Rumble U, Nintendo seems encouraged by the growing popularity of the genre. Interestingly, it previously declined the opportunity for an exclusive deal with Activision for Skylanders. This Johnny-come-lately grab now that the gimmick has taken off has more than a whiff of desperation. There’s a real first-mover advantage in a game like this that involves collecting toys: the more people invest in a particular system, the less likely they are to jump into a new one. Nintendo is banking on the established popularity of its IP having enough weight to compensate for potentially missing out on gamers that are more excited by the concept than any particular characters. You can expect more details at Nintendo’s E3 digital event.