Of the many hardware features crammed into the Wii U's hefty GamePad — from a touchscreen to a front-facing camera to motion control — one of the most mysterious remains the controller's integration of near field communication or, as it's better known, NFC. At a meeting this afternoon, Shigeru Miyamoto — Nintendo Senior Managing Director, and the designer behind some of gaming's biggest franchises — said that creating games with NFC integration was more of a priority than a game supporting dual GamePads.
NFC is perhaps best known as the wireless tech used to transport Skylanders' figurines into the game when placed upon its NFC-powered "portal." The technology will also make an appearance in Disney Infinity, which uses an NFC-powered pad to drop Disney figurines into the game. So with the two biggest NFC-powered games opting for their own pads to maintain the fiction of the effect, what are Nintendo's plans for the NFC sensor on the Wii U GamePad?
"With NFC, that's a feature that everyone that owns a Wii U can take advantage of," Shigeru Miyamoto told Polygon in an interview this afternoon. "So that's what we're putting our priorities right now. We're hoping that in the near future we'll be able to show you something that will take advantage of the NFC on Wii U and people will be able to enjoy that."
This is in direct contrast to experiences using two GamePads, an option that while possible, could be prohibitively costly until more consumers have a need for two of the touchscreen controllers.
"With regards to the two GamePads functionality, from a gaming system standpoint we are developing games that will have that capability," Miyamoto said. "In the future, perhaps when we get closer to something that, an environment where everybody or a large majority of people would have two GamePads, that might be a time where we look at how we can leverage a system of that nature."
"With NFC, that's a feature that everyone that owns a Wii U can take advantage of"
With Nintendo's recent affinity for revealing new projects directly to consumers via its "Nintendo Direct" broadcasts, we asked if the company would wait until E3 to reveal its NFC project.
"It used to be that we would save many of our announcements for E3 and we would announce them at the show, but what we've seen in the recent years is that there are a number of different ways and a number of different times when we have more opportunity to make those announcements. So I can't today make any promises of what we're going to do at E3, but I think, this in particular is going to be a year where we're seeing more regular announcements from Nintendo about what's coming and that someplace within the announcements that we're making, hopefully we'll have something to share about NFC."
If Nintendo takes advantage of one of those "different times" before E3 to reveal its NFC plans, then E3 becomes the place to actually experience it, Miyamoto explained. "But as I think Mr. Iwata has been saying lately, where we do see a tremendous value in E3 is it's a place where people can come and they can actually get their hands on and try the software we've been talking about, so I think that's what people can look forward to at E3."
Stay tuned for more from our interview with Miyamoto, including discussion of Wii U's sales struggle, Pikmin 3, and the challenge of developing new properties for an audience expecting familiar faces.