Nintendo said it wasn't showing new hardware at E3 2014, but it's actually bringing a new NFC reader for 3DS, as part of a suite of cross-compatible 3DS and Wii U games.
The new hardware was announced today during an investor briefing. The briefing text is available in Japanese, but various Twitter users have translated details, including reliable analyst David Gibson.
According to these reports, a new series of games and figures codenamed Nintendo Figurine Platform is in the works. For 3DS, there's a reader that uses infra red communication, while the Wii U will use the Game Pad's in-built NFC abilities.
The NFC reader will be used with figurines, and will be capable of both reading and writing data, so that you can customise characters to your own tastes.
Rather than being confined to one game like the Skylanders or Disney Infinity add-ons, the figurine will be compatible with a range of titles - giving publishers an interesting way to sell add-on content, perhaps. Only one figurine was shown during the briefing - Mario, of course.
The figures and peripheral have been in the works for about one year, and will be shown at E3 2014 along with a number of software titles.
The NFP is just one initiative from the new Business Development department, which is also working on finding new markets and investigating smart devices.
Nintendo had told us it wasn't bringing hardware to E3, but was presumably referring to consoles when this comment was made; the 3DS NFC reader is a peripheral.
3DS and Wii U
The 3DS has hit 43 million sales worldwide, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told investors, commenting that it is now time for the platform holder to rake in the rewards of its efforts with the portable. The new Pokémon and the international release of Tomodachi Life were presented as upcoming highlights, as well as upcoming third-party titles like Monster Hunter 4G and Yo-kai Watch 2.
As for the Wii U, Nintendo hopes Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros will help it gain momentum. More Wii U games will be shown at E3, apparently.
The Wii U's June system update will increase the console's boot time by 20 seconds, Iwata added.
One final note on the Wii U: Nintendo said the 3.6 million 2014 sales forecast it made during its end of year financial report is "conservative". However, the company doesn't currently have the stock on hand to meet this target. The hardware is no longer selling at a loss.
The first smart device app will go live by the end of the fiscal year, Nintendo said.: Mario Kart TV will allow players to share clips and rankings.
Nintendo said it has nothing to announce at present but is still looking into licensing its properties; it announced this initiative at its last investor briefing, but it's yet to bear publicly-aired fruit.
Nintendo's development teams will move into a new building around June, where they will be able to collaborate and share with each other more freely than in their current, insular office set up.
Iwata said he expects to increase profits this financial year, and although the following year won't be huge, it will set a solid foundation for FY17. Nintendo's quality of life platform will be an intrinsic part of this growth, and Iwata asked investors to have trust that Nintendo knows how to get people hooked.
The president said Nintendo is not pessimistic about its future in games but wants to explore other business strategies as well. This is not uncommon in Japan; Bandai Namco is one half toy empire, Konami makes most of its money from gyms, and Sega Sammy runs pachinko parlours. Iwata said Nintendo sees itself as an "entertainment company" rather than a games company.
Investors asked when Nintendo would release a new console, and Iwata said he couldn't predict such a thing right now. He went on to say Nintendo won't release new hardware if current users aren't satisfied. Well.
Regarding its push for new markets, Iwata said Nintendo wants to bring something special to these territories rather than localise existing products and bump the price up.