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Nintendo releasing Skylanders-esque figurines


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Nintendo Will Debut These Skylanders-Style Figures at E3



Nintendo’s interactive figurines will be able to connect to a variety of Wii U and 3DS games, it said. Image: Nintendo

Nintendo will create interactive figurines–like the ones used in popular videogames Skylanders andDisney Infinity–for its popular characters (i.e. Super Mario), which will work with a variety of different new games for Wii U and 3DS, the company’s CEO Satoru Iwata has said at a briefing for investors.

The figurines are an attempt at leveraging the enduring popularity of Nintendo’s stable of characters to sell more gaming hardware and software. On Wednesday, Nintendo announced the financial results for its most recent fiscal year, which ended on March 31, and the numbers were not pretty: It posted an operating loss of about $450 million, and said it was only able to sell about 2.7 million units of Wii U throughout the world during that 12-month period. (By comparison, rival Sony recently said it has sold 7 million PlayStation 4 consoles since it launched in November.)

As illustrated in the slide above from Iwata’s presentation, which took place Thursday morning in Japan, Nintendo aims to position the figures as untethered to any single game or genre, but rather as accessories that can be used with a wide variety of different games. It plans to release them during this holiday season.

The figurines are “a new business that will someday become one of our core activities,” Iwata said.1


“NFP is a Nintendo character that’s only for you.” Image: Nintendo

Nintendo said, as shown above, that by transferring game data back and forth between a variety of games and the character figurines, players can create a “personal, customized” character. The company’s code name for the initiative is “NFP,” for “Nintendo Figurine Platform.”

The figures, Iwata said, will boost Nintendo’s presence in retail stores: “There are not only going to be decorative boxes for video game hardware and packages for software, but also Nintendo character figurines displayed on store shelves. This will provide exposure for Nintendo, play a great role in raising our brand awareness and create more opportunities for consumers to play video games,” he said.

Iwata showed only a Mario figurine in his presentation and did not specify any particular genres of games that it would function with. Iwata said that more details, likely including specific games and more specific figurines, will be released at the E3 Expo, which will take place in Los Angeles from June 10-12.

Near-field communications devices, the family of accessories into which these figurines fall, need two major parts to work: The passive figures and a powered receiver unit. When they’re brought within range of each other, they can trade data. Skylanders and Disney Infinity both include a “power base” accessory that plugs into the game console to read data from the figures. But Wii U already contains this capability–the GamePad controller has an NFC reader built in.

Thus far, Nintendo has made very little use of this functionality. Unveiling a suite of NFC-based games and figures at E3 is part of its overall stated goal of showing games at this year’s expo that justify the existence of the expensive GamePad controller, which has a large touchscreen that is rarely used to much effect in the games Nintendo has released on Wii U thus far.

Nintendo will also release a separate base accessory that will communicate with the portable 3DS devices via infrared, so that the figurines can be used on 3DS, too.

By including this functionality in Wii U, Nintendo has planted something of a Trojan horse into players’ homes. Now it can sell them games that use the figurines without having to convince them to pay up for a bundle package containing the game and a “power base.”

It could even give the games away for free via download, and make its money purely on the sales of the figurines.

We’ll find out the exact details on June 10, when Nintendo hosts a livestreamed video presentation of its E3 announcements.

I've recently been thinking of a Nintendo TRPG set in the SSB universe, where the main character would travel to all the other different worlds fighting in that world's themed battlefields, and against that world's themed enemies (kinda like KH meets nintendo meets FFT) and as a cross promotion you could buy the actual figurines (which come to life in the game) and game boards for a table top RPG that mirrors the game. of course the figurines would have NFC and allow you to power up your characters or unlock special characters in the game as well.

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yeah there is dinseny infinity, and the skylanders franchise that already use this functionality, Nintendo already announced the ability back before the wiiu was launched, i'm more than a little surprised they waited this long to launch it. it's guaranteed to make money, plus everyone loves collectibles.

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They should design a new type of Pokemon cards that can be read electronically, so people can battle through a game on the Wii/Wii U. That way, you buy the game, then spend all that money on new pokemon cards to play.

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They should design a new type of Pokemon cards that can be read electronically, so people can battle through a game on the Wii/Wii U. That way, you buy the game, then spend all that money on new pokemon cards to play.

it would be super easy to embed a NFC chip into a pokemon card.

it would alos make everyone upgrade their existing decks. pure money.

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