As of February 16th, Nintendo will no longer have separate console and handheld divisions. The reason, confirmed by Engadget, is because the Big N has decided to merge the two together in an attempt to streamline its offerings and breed more innovation and interactivity between the soon-to-be single entity.
When I read this news, I instantly became excited about the possibilities of this union. Nintendo has tried in the past (to minimal success) to integrate their handhelds with their consoles, but with today’s technology, I feel they can be infinitely more successful. Does anyone remember the thing where you could use the GBA as a Gamecube controller?
Or maybe you recall the Super Game Boy, a device that allowed you to insert Gameboy games into your Super Nintendo and play them on your TV?
Either way, Nintendo has dabbled in this space a few times, but seeing them give it an earnest shot could give them the edge they need. As crazy as it may sound, they should take a few pages from Sony’s playbook when thinking about their plan for implementation. The following are just ideas and speculation on my part – things I’d like to see happen. With that said, I’d like to see:
More than anything else, Nintendo needs to create a complete ecosystem between the 3DS and the Wii U. It’s bad enough that the Wii U eShop doesn’t transfer over the Wii points that were left over, but currently, the Wii U and 3DS stores are completely segregated and that has to change. Everyone else has an ecosystem that provides a real incentive to stick around.
For example, the Playstation Store sells items for PSP, Vita, and PS3 in its store. Apple sells apps that are compatible across multiple devices in theirs. Nintendo should be able to pull off some combination of the two. Also, having accounts that aren’t tied directly to the console would aid this cause. Hopefully they’ll release some firmware to make this a reality.
Cross Play and Cross Buy
Another area where Sony’s got the right idea. If a game sees a dual release on both Wii U and 3DS (which we haven’t seen yet), buying the Wii U version should net you a digital copy of the 3DS version and you should also be able sync your saves to the cloud (which would need to be created) and resume on the other device. An added benefit the Nintendo version would have over the PS3/Vita combo is that the 3DS can emulate almost anything the Wii U can in regards to second screens and touch controls.
Improved Social Functions
Nintendo has made some huge strides when it comes to online communication and multiplayer… but so much more can be done. Playing online on the Wii U is somewhat of an awkward situation because of the restrictions Nintendo has put into place, like the lack of on-screen notifications for messages and having the friends list and Miiverse as separate functions. People play multiplayer to interact with other people, so they should be trying to prevent it from being a lonely experience, not gimping it.
Speaking of Miiverse, the 3DS needs this. The Miiverse is a brilliant idea and porting it down to their handheld makes so much sense and would allow them to expand upon it and make it even better. It’s its own social network, and they should leverage that.
There are certainly plenty of other opportunities for Nintendo to capitalize on their restructuring and other ideas that only they could think of, and I hope they do. I hope they continue to improve upon their product and silence those they believe both the 3DS and Wii U are failures. And above all else, give me a full fledged Pokemon title on the Wii U.