Wii U gets NFC support

Nintendo has revealed that Wii U controllers will support Near Field Communication (NFC), which enables wireless communication between devices in close proximity to each other.

Speaking during an investor briefing, company president Satoru Iwata said: "The Wii U is known for its new controller with a screen, among other features. For this controller, please be advised that we have decided to install an NFC function.

"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 videogame world."

That immediately brings to mind Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, the Activision title that lets players scan figurines into the game world using an attached peripheral. It doesn't take much imagination to imagine a Pokémon version of this, opening up a lucrative new business model for Nintendo by fusing merchandising and software sales using the Wii U controller.

Iwata continued: "Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities, such as using it as means of making micropayments."

It was a busy day for Iwata as he sought to prove that Nintendo is well-positioned to recover from a fiscal year in which it expects to make an annual loss for the first time in its 30 years in the videogame business.

He also announced a new online service, Nintendo Network, for 3DS and Wii U, and a new Mario side-scroller for 3DS. The company has been making a loss on 3DS hardware since last August's price cut, and that will come to an end in the first six months of the coming fiscal year, beginning on April 1.