I seem to be on a real Nintendo thread lately but I can't get the WiiU out of my head. As much time as I spend "hating" on Nintendo, it comes from a place of love. I've expressed that the WiiU is Dead to Me, and even shared my concern over Nintendo's relevance. I have even written wordy and completely baseless technical articles about achieving cross play between the WiiU and 3DS to help unify the consumer vision of the Nintendo brand and possibly introduce a lower priced SKU for existing 3DS owners who have not adopted the WiiU. Today I'd like to present yet another alternative; sell the WiiU Gamepad at a profitable price point and release a PC SDK much like what Microsoft did with Kinect.
I saw this video and my brain lit up. I immediately saw the cool factor here in creating a streaming experience between my PC and a handheld device. This is nothing new, but the inclusion of thumb sticks and physical buttons, coupled with a touch screen, could create interesting experiences that I certainly haven't seen. This is not quite the same as the streaming Steam Machine, or a native iPad App; it much more closely resembles NVidia's Shield project. That said, opening the Gamepad to the PC platform could become a huge rush of creativity that Nintendo could then cherry pick and bring to the WiiU through publisher support or first party funding. They may even be so bold as to create an indie portfolio for their home console.
I would love to see Nintendo release a PC SDK for WiiU Gamepad much like Microsoft did for Kinect. I can't imagine Nintendo objecting to the idea if they started selling the Gamepad at a profitable price point. Surely selling a piece of the WiiU for profit would look better on paper than selling an entire console at a loss. The Gamepad may become larger than the console in the short term but could spark new developers to join the 3rd party group under Nintendo in the long term.
I think of several developers falling into the same trappings that I find myself to be. I enjoy tinkering with new technologies but my R&D budget is not exactly a blank check. I usually tinker with technology I already own or plan to buy anyways; Kinect, Android devices, iOS, PC of course. I've even created homebrew demos on my DS in the past, in spite of Nintendo doing everything they can to shut me out of their wall garden. It would not seem cost effective for small developers or teams to invest in a WiiU development kit for the sake of just having it around; they aren't cheap. And some teams frankly don't care to use Webkit or Unity to create their game experiences. If I was able to create fun and functional prototypes that use the official hardware to its full potential then I'd be more inclined to take the gamble on going full throttle.
The only reason I toyed with Kinect was because it was there and Microsoft made it so easy for me. I made games and profited on XBLIG because of the low financial risk and my curiosity about the platform. Using XBLIG to cut my teeth on C# also helped me add that language to my resume. Even Sony seems to be opening their doors slightly on the Vita and PS4. That alone makes me very curious about their platform.
Currently Nintendo has nothing like this; no affordable option that lets me dip my toe into the murky Mario-scented waters of the WiiU or the 3DS. Affordable is relative of course; as a CEO making 7 figures thinks a Porsche is an affordable means of transportation, I might tend to disagree =). Opening the Gamepad to the PC development community seems like a relatively low risk investment for Nintendo to begin reaping nearly instant results from increased sales of Gamepads - and possibly consoles - to the discovery of innovative ideas that might breathe life from outside of Nintendo's walled garden.