Nintendo Looking to Merge Handheld and Console Development

Just imagine a world where you had the option of playing the newest Mario or Zelda game on your choice of platform, whether it be console or handheld.

This may become reality as revealed to Kotaku, in a recent interview with Nintendo's legendary game creator and lead game designer Shigeru Miyamoto.  While Nintendo is planning a dual release for its upcoming "Super Smash Bros." on both Wii U and 3DS, most Nintendo games are still confined to a single hardware choice.

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"Particularly with digital downloads now and the idea that you're downloading the right to play a game, that opens up the ability to have multiple platform digital downloads where you can download on one and download on another," Said Miyamoto when asked about platforms like iOS and PlayStation's ability to run software on different versions of hardware.

Miyamoto also added that, while there is a challenge to developing software to run on different platforms, that challenge can be addressed by creating a more unified development environment. 

These comments support statements made by Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata to investors this past winter, when Iwata described Nintendo's recent efforts to combine its handheld and console development teams. Iwata cited the very different architectures of its previous hardware as the reason Nintendo is just now trying to unite its teams.

"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 in a Q&A posted on Nintendo's Japanese website.

"When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems," he added.

Combined with increased parity between hardware, Iwata is hoping this unification will help increase efficiency of game development and prevent the software shortages that have plagued Nintendo's recent consoles. 

Playstation currently leads the way in cross-platform development with its "Cross-Buy" initiative, which allows users to purchase a game for PS3 or PS4 and also receive the accompanying Vita title. This works in combination with its "Cross-Save" system that transfers saves between handheld and console versions. Nintendo recently released a digital version of its NES hit "Super Mario Bros. 3" for both Wii U and 3DS simultaneously, but buying the game on one platform does not give you access to it on the other.

While Nintendo has made no promise about future games, it seems like "Super Smash Bros." won't be the company's last to see a multi-platform release. Nintendo made a strong showing at E3, and finally seems poised to recover from a down year in 2013.

Via Kotaku

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  • Meh. They've been trying to do this (Monster Hunter 3, anybody?), but it's not going to be sucessful this generation. Handhelds need a huge increase in power before you could look at a portable gaming system and a console playing the same game and think that the handheld comes close to comparing.
  • They desperately need to either:

    A) Offer games as apps on iOS & Android
    B) Partner with Samsung and make a Galaxy-Nintendo phone, that has exclusive Nintendo apps

    One thing iOS & Android did was kill Sony and Nintendo's handheld devices. If they want to marry console with handheld it must be console with smartphone.
  • So is this Nintendo acknowledging that the WiiU is of comparable power to new handhelds?