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Wii U controller's latest secret revealed
Wii U controller's latest secret revealed
January 27, 2012 | By Kris Graft

January 27, 2012 | By Kris Graft
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    26 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Just when you think you know everything about Nintendo's innovative -- and risky -- new Wii U tablet controller, the company throws another factor into the mix.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed this week that the touch-enabled controller will also implement near-field communication (NFC) tech. As an NFC device, the controller will be able to interact with objects equipped with NFC tags.

It's the same set of standards used in some smartphones and smart cards. By touching an NFC-tagged item -- or bringing it in very close range -- with an NFC device, the objects interact via radio communication.

"By installing this functionality, it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC and to expand the new play format in the video game world," Iwata said during an earnings briefing.

"Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments," he said, a hint at Nintendo's expanding digital distribution plans.

NFC technology has been around for years. But for game development, one interesting implementation of NFC only recently saw commercial release: Activision's console game Skylanders, in which players can buy NFC-tagged figurines, place them on an NFC-equipped pod, and bring those figurines to life in-game.

Iwata described the tech in terms of the Wii U, but did not give specifics on implementation. "The NFC I'm referring to here is the noncontact NFC standard that is compatible with FeliCa and MIFARE, and is expected to be widely used around the world in the near future," he said.


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Comments


Nick Kinsman
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Well, they're certainly loading up on little gimmicks. I'm not against the Wii U (except in name), but I'm not enthused at all until we start to see some of these gimmicks actually doing something. The potential is there ... here's hoping they pull it out.

Ryan Creighton
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Skylanders-style Pokemon figures: confirmed.

Willie Sippel
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Arcade games using NFC equipped trading cards or figures are extremely popular in Japan and Skylanders does extremely well in the West, so rest assured: that gimmick will be put to use.

Louis Sedeno
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It opens a great door for marketing an IP to youths. Remember when home consoles were new and parents weren't too enthused to buy their kids these things. Nintendo throws in a robot and now the game console is a "toy". While the same tactics may not need apply this year, it definitely opens the door to larger product marketing. Toys, cards, and games can now be unified more into one massive form of entertainment.



If anything I would like to see at least attempts made by the Japanese companies to localize some of their arcade titles that revolve around card collection--Lord of Vermilion comes to mind.



With proper cooperation between companies It would be nice to see more depth and customization. I'm imagining what it can do for table top RPGs, folks.

Johan Wendin
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If you read Wii-U as "View" - it'll make a lot more sense and not be quite as cringe-worthy.

Rey Samonte
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I've skipped the Wii entirely. I'm still on one side of the fence wondering if it's even worth trying to climb over. I would love to see more games but for now, none of these features excites me a whole lot.

Brad Borne
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If none of the Wii's best games excited you, then no, I wouldn't imagine much will.

Rey Samonte
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I wouldn't say none. The only games that has my interest is "Xenoblade Chronicles " and "The Last Story." Unfortunately, two games doesn't warrent a purchase imo. Not to mention a game that may not be released here in the US. If it is, I haven't heard of any announcements yet...but still.



But yeah, you might be right. :/

Andrew Chen
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On the plus side, I guess that is one more tick in your Wii U "buy" column since the system is backwards compatible.

(Who knows, maybe by then Nintendo will decide to release The Last Story, the epic RPG utilizing some of Japan's top design talent, in its largest market that has been software-starved for a year. But hey, maybe not.)

R Hawley
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My kids just want Mario Kart and Animal Crossing for goodness sake.

A W
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It starts...

1) one post with gimmick in it. check

2) one post about not being excited. check

3) one post about kids system. check

4) one post about dusting it off after using it as a paper weight... pending...



There is probably going to be a treasure trove of new stuff coming out as the Wii U gets closer to E3 presentations. Its better they release this info early so developers can begin to think of and make uses of this tech. One thing developers complained about (among the many things they could find to justify not supporting the Wii with house AAA titles) was that Nintendo seemed to be tight about what they where planning to do, ultimately giving them a first out of the gate implementation of their tech, while every one else is left scratching their heads as to how to best use the tool they had no idea was coming. Hopefully small announcements like this one will convince other development companies that Nintendo is turning a corner and allowing some of the tech to slip in to developers hands, so that they can produce things along side of Nintendo own game developers, and not have to feel like they get sloppy seconds (for lack of better terminology.)

Nick Kinsman
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Not that I disagree with what you're getting at, but downplaying other people for skepticism seems silly. I can look at my own Wii right now (and indeed, for probably the last 3 years) as a large mistake of a purchase. I still have my gamecube, and all the games I played on my Wii were GCN titles anyway, so ... why bother? The Wii was something, but that something was not made into something for me, or indeed, a large portion of the existing market of games.

Then we get the 3DS, another system with some interesting ideas and a lot of hype. And look how well that started ...



Ultimately, it makes me hope Nintendo is actually learning from these mistakes (as you suggest in your comment), because I'm pretty sure the customer base is learning plenty.

Andrew Chen
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Nintendo has signaled in recent (unprofitable) quarters that they are going to be more open with 3rd party developers going forward. Indeed, I feel like leaks for the 3DS and Wii U are more commonplace than the systems before them, and the 1st year software support lists also nod in this direction.

That said...pretty words and arm-flapping doesn't bring certainty until we see the final products. So yes, let us wait.

R Hawley
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The WiFit board needs dusting off, it's currently being used as a door-stop (no lie). Does that qualify?

A W
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yep.

Chris Hendricks
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As a development platform, I'm excited about the Wii U... but I won't be convinced that it will actually be purchased by customers until they figure out how to connect two Wii U controllers to the same machine at the same time. That's the announcement I'm waiting for.

warren blyth
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Why exactly? So it can offer slightly less assymetric (local) multiplayer?

(2 screens and 4 wiimotes - instead of 1 screen and 4 wiimotes? i don't see the big gain).



... I'd guess you see two screens offering a lot of 2 player (local) co-op gaming. But if they should make this concession, I'd expect a ton of fervor over the need for 3 or 4 screen support. seems like a slippery slope to go down...



I found the announcement of a 1 screen limit baffling, until I read that all their demos were showing unique asymmetrical (local) multiplayer innovations. Then I got really excited about how this would differentiate their system. When you talk about WiiU's (local) multiplayer games, they'll probably be really different than we're used to.



also, i keep saying "(local)" because if you want to use more than one screen in the same game: you just require online play. I'm sure this is how we'll see 2 screen, or 4 screen (or more?) screen gaming implemented.

Cody Scott
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@Warren



Well just think how great madden would be when it comes to picking plays and not having your opponent have a pretty good guess that you are going to do a passing play, or that you are going to blitz them.

Joseph Arcidiacono
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but NFC technology doesn't sound cheap. It has great potential, but how will Nintendo keep the Wii U price low enough to compete with Sony and Microsoft consoles?

Brad Borne
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It's just some wireless. With every single thing using wireless radios nowadays, I couldn't imagine it being more than a few cents to implement.

Christopher Corbett
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I tried really hard to like the Wii; and for a short while I enjoyed it. With motion tech now in PS3 and 360, likely price drops for those consoles this year, and strong dev support for them both...the next Nintendo console has a steep uphill battle in front of it. Even if the NFC tech is inexpensive the console itself doesn't seem to be different enough to drive a successful launch like the Wii was. Nintendo may be moving too soon and would have been better off driving stronger development for for the Wii. As it stands they've cultivated a large user base that may now be ready to switch to Sony and MS this year; if they haven't already been trending that way.

Mikhail Mukin
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As to "big" consoles Nintendo was finding a way to compete with MS/Sony by using a "generation old" (and so - cheap) HW. It was interesting to see it actually work (from busynes point of view) but as a developer - I somehow managed to avoid GC/Wii and I'm glad I did. Trying to downport games is usually not much fun.



Looks like Nintendo continues the approach of "no direct HW specs comparison". I don't see what I could possbly do with things like NFC that would be fun for myself... but there are a lot of people who buy toy models and dance pads and other things (I would assume - especially in Japan) - so this might just work again for Nintendo.

wes bogdan
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Everyone remembers sega's DEATHSPRIAL as it left hardware for software.

Nintendo seems to be entering into it's own deathsprial-FIRST OUT FIRST OUT OF DATE RINSE REPEATE . Wii was underpowered next to ps3,360 but still sold unfortunatlly that meant it would rush the next gen and by ps4 they might need to

Rush out another replacementbeing that WIi U is suposedly only 20% more powerful than a 360....the only question left would be who gets nintendo-Apple,ms or Sony!!!

Andrew Chen
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What about PS2?

It came at first and finished that way as well.

Mike Reddy
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If they made the slate (the super controller) an intelligent board with modifiable image as board space - like MS surface - then could dispense with the TV that would be interesting. Sort of (trans)portable gaming, rather than handheld per se, and the base could communicate with multiple slates I think there'd be more scope for "toys as games" and vice versa. Not too keen on current slate design

wes bogdan
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Here's a killer app that only Wii U could do play ds/3ds games on a combo HDTV /tabletpad which means you could buy a ds / 3ds game and play it without the ds/3ds which would open up an even bigger launch lineup of games.

Another problem,for myself and anyone who thanked nintendo for lefty support, is without a resistance 1 or 2 full customization (r3 didn't let you modify the d-pad so lacks full customization) I SIMPLY CAN'T PLAY DUAL ANALOG WITHOUT MY OWN PERSONALLY DESIGNED SCHEME...which i already use on 360,ps3



Without a Master Control Profile or M.C.P on 720,ps4 and Wii U or even Vita ,3ds circle pad pro are all no better than paperweights as i only have trouble with 2 analog sticks whereas i can play 2d(smash tv types still need southpaw),2.5d or single analog 3D but in a post play,create n share world we still CAN'T CREATE our own control schemes-thisis where M.C.P comes in as part of your next gen profile set it up as needed,save it and ALL GAMES are slave to it so no need to change schemes in each game-heck games could simply offer default and if you needed anything different set it up once file n forget then get on with what matters GAMING!!


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