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Iwata: Next Nintendo console and handheld may have 'integrated' development platform

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Nintendo's next gaming console and handheld device may be "integrated" with a common development platform akin to Apple's iOS or Google's Android, said company president Satoru Iwata in an investor call last week.

The Q&A followed a presentation from Nintendo officials regarding the company's poor third-quarter financial results.

In response to a question from an analyst who pointed out Iwata's previously stated concern about losing customers when Nintendo introduces new hardware platforms, Iwata said that last year, Nintendo restructured its research-and-development groups. Now, the development teams for handhelds and consoles both exist under one division led by senior managing director Genyo Takeda. According to Iwata, "vast technological advances" in recent years made it possible for Nintendo to "achieve a fair degree of architectural integration."

Iwata also acknowledged that "a huge amount of effort" is required to port Wii games to Nintendo 3DS, or 3DS titles to Wii U, because the three systems are "entirely different" in their display resolutions and development environments.

"If the transition of software from platform to platform can be made simpler, this will help solve the problem of game shortages in the launch periods of new platforms," said Iwata.

Nintendo wants to bring forward what it did with the Wii U, according to Iwata, instead of starting from scratch with something new. "While we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture," said Iwata, adding that the plan should break down the walls between home consoles and handhelds so they become "like brothers in a family of systems."

Iwata remains unsure at this point if Nintendo will also integrate the form factor of its next platforms to produce only one device that's a hybrid of handheld and console; that will be determined by consumer demand. He listed iOS and Android as examples of platforms that allow developers to release the same software on a wide variety of devices, and said, "Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples."