Nintendo's next console and mobile will be "like brothers"
President Satoru Iwata says next platforms from company could feature a common development platform like iOS or Android.
The next home console and portable devices from Nintendo may feature a common development platform much like iOS or Android, president Satoru Iwata said during a recent investor briefing, which was translated into English and published today.
Iwata explained that in 2013, Nintendo reorganized its R&D divisions so that the company's handheld devices and home console development teams are now part of one singular division. In the past, this separation of resources led to "completely different architectures" and thus "divergent methods" of software development methods, Iwata said.
"However, because of vast technological advances, it became possible to achieve a fair degree of architectural integration," he explained. "We discussed this point, and we ultimately concluded that it was the right time to integrate the two teams."
Iwata specifically called out the difficulty of porting a Wii game to 3DS, saying it would require a "huge amount of effort" because the software architecture is "entirely different." The same issue crops up when Nintendo tried to port 3DS games to Wii U, he said.
Nintendo won't face these issues going forward beyond the Wii U and 3DS, Iwata said, because the company's new unified approach will allow consoles and handhelds to become "like brothers in a family of systems."
"While we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture," Iwata said. "It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately."
Finally, Iwata said he remains unsure if the form factor of its next platforms will be integrated to establish some kind of hybrid system. Instead, he said the opposite might be true; that the number of form factors could increase in the way that multiple devices can run iOS and Android. This will all depend on consumer demand, he said.
"The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples," Iwata said, referencing iOS and Android. "Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future."