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Nintendo's next step: Its own take on  Skylanders
Nintendo's next step: Its own take on Skylanders
May 8, 2014 | By Mike Rose

May 8, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Following poor fiscal results from Nintendo earlier this week, the company is looking to show the world that the next 12 months will be something special -- and that involves Nintendo's own take on Skylanders, and the ability to watch Mario Kart on your mobile.

Nintendo saw heavy losses for the last fiscal year, mainly due to poor Wii U sales. The company is now looking to turn this around, and today revealed some of the steps towards doing so.

The big one is the upcoming launch of the 'Nintendo Figurine Platform' -- essentially Nintendo's own Skylanders. Players will be able to buy figurines that come with built-in NFC functionality, and import them into compatible video games.

Nintendo says that games and figurines are due to launch "starting from this year-end sales season" -- and Nintendo president Satoru Iwata was keen to stress that it's coming to 3DS too.

"I understand that some of you may be worried that the market for NFP, a platform that will work with a number of software titles, will not grow large enough when it is compatible only with Wii U," said Iwata.

He added, "If we can make a good use of Nintendo 3DS, which has already sold over 43 million units, however, this assumption will greatly change."

Iwata was also keen to note that this is "going to serve as the first example of actively utilizing our own character IP."

Given that the Skylanders franchise has now generated $2 billion in sales and sold 175 million toys to consumers, mimicking the functionality would not appear to be a bad idea at all.

mario kart.jpgNext on the list is taking advantage of mobile devices in some way, and while Nintendo would only say that it plans to release its first ever mobile app sometime this year, the company also revealed another way it plans to utilize mobile.

The recently announced Mario Kart TV, which will allow players to watch Mario Kart 8 replays from a special Wii U channel, is also coming to web browsers and mobile.

You'll be able to watch Mario Kart 8 replays, view rankings and check out the various tournaments all from your browser or smart device, says the company. Iwata did not say when this functionality will be available.

Rounding up the meeting, Iwata noted that Nintendo "would like to spend one full year to leverage Nintendo’s own strength in order to regain momentum," and said that the company plans to leverage its significant 3DS user base to boost its current fiscal year.

"Posting an operating loss for the fourth fiscal year running is something unacceptable," he said. "We see this fiscal year as a time to prioritize restoration of the balance of revenue and expenses."

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James Coote
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This is a great idea. There's so much you could do with NFC enabled figurines and models, and NFC in general. I don't think it has to be just a kids thing either. I can easily see a time when every anime-figurine or Gundam model sold in the shops comes with an NFC tag (or multiple!) that integrates with the related games.

Also great that Nintendo have woken up to the power of companion apps and keeping people engaged with the game even when they are out of the house and not necessarily playing it. Just needs twitch integration and for this to be rolled out across other games

Jeferson Soler
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@ James Coote - I agree with what you said. Also, about the NFC-enabled figurines (also known as NFPs in this case), this strategy could work in more ways than anyone could ever imagine if done right. For example, Activision and Nintendo are actually still in good terms due to the popularity of the Skylanders franchise on the Nintendo systems and Iwata did talk about licensing Nintendo characters to other companies in the past as well as in the latest IR Event, so if Activision is interested on doing so, the company could persuade Nintendo on letting the Kirby characters and/or the Pokemon characters guest star on the next Skylanders game. Nintendo would be the one to produce the NFPs, but Activision would be the one to program the characters into the Skylanders game for the Wii, 3DS and Wii U (with some help from Nintendo, of course). That's one idea, at least, but it wouldn't be the only one!

Tyler King
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While I like the idea of cross overs I think it would work better going the other way. Getting Spyro in the nintendo version, or better yet in the next smash brothers would be cool. Either way being a skylanders fan myself I don't know that it would be a good fit for Activision as they are still being extremely successful on the world that they have built up. There isn't a real need for them to start making cameos that don't fit in their world quite yet... Especially when the next Skylanders essentially has their own pokemon component. Either way you are right that there are a lot of fun things that could come from it!

Christian Nutt
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One of the really cool things from the presentation is that the NFP figures will be compatible with multiple games -- which I realize is the case with Skylanders, but they're just Skylanders games (i.e. sequels, same gameplay.) With Nintendo's new figures, it seems as though a Mario figure could have functionality across a variety of games with Mario, which as we know goes across multiple genres, and thus could have multiple functionality. It's a neat idea.

Rather than strategizing around a game series that has figurine functionality, in other words, they're strategizing around character figurines and figuring out how to implement that across the game library.

Ian Uniacke
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I don't recall where I read it but one article said that the Nintendo figurines will have some type of memory inside them so that you can build up the stats of your figurine (so to speak). So I guess there may be something like playing Mario Golf will build up your stamina so you'll be better when you play Mario Tennis.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Ian Uniacke - You are correct and that was on the latest IR Event report. Iwata himself pointed that out. Basicly, the NFPs are "upgradable".

Ujn Hunter
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Sounds like Nintendo is now a "Me too!" company instead of the innovator that they once were. I understand that it is partly the general public's fault for buying into crap like F2P, DLC and other crappy industry trends, but it is sad to see. Not excited at all about the direction of the industry if Nintendo is going to follow the same garbage trends. What ever happened to the games, man?

Bob Johnson
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we don't know what they are exactly doing with the figures. I'd withhold the "me too" judgement until you know the details.

Michael Pianta
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I have a feeling Nintendo is going to make a ton of money with this.

Chip Sineni
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As much as the fanboys won't want to hear this, this would be the best way Nintendo could enter other platforms as well (consoles, mobile, PC)- you sell the physical goods, and you are still in "hardware" , but you are less worried about piracy and what those platform holders are doing and you carve your own destiny

I had this listed in here

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My problem is not with "what Nintendo can do with its own technology" My problem is with "Third Party not using Nintendo technology to do their own thing" Nintendo has been great at providing tech that they either end up using themselves or never using fully. It's Third Party companies that seem to have blinders on when it comes to using tech that is built into devices that don't just render pretty graphics. Also I would hate to point it out, but if just Nintendo uses this tech then the tech gets mothballed into the term "Gimmick" because other third party companies never utilize the tech given to them to their own advantage. For this example see "motion controls" and "second screen controller."

Jeferson Soler
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@ A W - I understand your concern, but at the moment, it does seem like that Nintendo is more concerned about being the one to introduce NFPs as a way to expand game awareness and game character awareness for their own products. At least, that's from my own understanding when I read the IR report. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if the eastern mainstream game companies and Activision decide to use this as an opportunity to expand their franchises and their brand awareness. In case of the eastern game companies, they love doing products that promote their own games, especially Capcom and Square Enix as well as Square Enix's Taito, so the idea of doing NFPs for the Wii U would be a perfect excuse for those companies to create more statues and figurines that may also function as an alternative to digital software. Not to mention, NFPs can have their data updated, so that's a plus right there.