Though it was revealed at last year’s E3, Nintendo is still revealing surprises about its next-generation console, the Wii U. The company’s president, Satoru Iwata announced today that, in addition to abandoning the dreaded friend code system, the Wii U will feature near-field communication (NFC) support.
Iwata didn’t get too specific about the applications of the technology, but he was sure to point out that NFC would be an effective method for making payments (think Google Wallet, which also uses NFC for tap-and-go payments at select locations using your smartphone). Iwata was quoted as saying the following in a Q3 financial presentation: “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. Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments.”
So while the potential for the use of NFC in gaming is vast, we don’t have too much information yet on how exactly it will be applied with the Wii U. But, as gaming website Joystiq pointed out, it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that we may be seeing some applications similar to the successful Spyro spin-off, Skylanders.
With Skylanders, you can purchase physical toys of different characters — which have RFID chips built into them — and then scan them into the game using a peripheral that attaches to your system of choice, where they in turn become playable. So with NFC, the need for any peripheral would be eliminated, and the toys could instead have NFC chips built into them, allowing them to communicate wirelessly with the Wii U to create the playable in-game characters.