The battle over the next-gen consoles took an intriguing turn today, as word leaked out of Japan that Nintendo is actively investigating the possibility of allowing smartphone games to be played on the Wii U console. The report, which didn’t attribute its news to a source, said Nintendo is looking at enabling the Wii U hardware to play smartphone apps and games as a way to leverage the Wii U’s tablet-like GamePad controller and take advantage of the dozens of games Wii U owners likely already own for their smartphone.
It’s unclear whether Nintendo is targeting the iOS or Android system as it evaluates its smartphone-game strategy, but the task would seemingly be much easier if they went the open-source Android route.
The potential fly in that ointment, of course, is the report last week that Google has hired Noah Falstein as “chief game designer” for Google. Falstein worked on some old-school games, most notably the arcade classic Sinistar and the Indiana Jones series for DOS, so his hiring by Google may indicate their Android system will end up a little bit less open in the future than it has been so far.
According to Japan Daily Press:
Nintendo Co. is trying to modify its newest console iteration, the Wii U — which has a handheld element and a touchscreen — so that users can play their most-loved smartphone apps on the console. The globally-renowned gaming giants are now aiming to allow customers to use smartphone applications on their new console as the company searches for a way to increase profitability.
Again, the article is unsubstantiated and has no attribution, but with the sales struggles the Wii U has had at this point in its early life — and with the PlayStation 4 and “Xbox 720” slated to release later this year — it’s not unreasonable to think that Nintendo has at least explored the concept, if not begun actively pursuing it. The article goes on, saying:
Nintendo has tried very hard to separate itself from Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, but their target market is the one that has decisively jumped on the smartphone bandwagon…. This move should lighten the burden somewhat, but the [Wii U] still has its work cut out for it in the next few years, where differentiation and new features remain the battlefield for catching the attention of gamers worldwide.
Indeed, the news out of E3 next month should be very interesting, and we can’t wait to bring you more as it unfolds from all three console manufacturers — Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.