While the Wii U’s Gamepad has had NFC (near-field communication) integration since launch, there’s yet to be a game to utilize the feature. Until yesterday, that is, when Pokémon Rumble U launched in Japan. The game, not unlike the obscenely-popular Skylanders franchise launched by Ubisoft, makes use of collectible mini-figurines that can be purchased separately. Once the toys are placed on the Gamepad, the specific character is then unlocked for selection in-game.
What’s more interesting, however, is that Nintendo plans on utilizing NFC for more than scanning items into games; they’d like to use it to facilitate microtransactions and other small purchases as well. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who will soon also assume the role of Nintendo of America CEO, spoke at an investor briefing this morning where he revealed a bit about the company’s plans for future NFC integration. “We are also exploring the possibility of using Wii U’s NFC functionality to provide a method for settling small payments in addition to creating new gameplay experiences,” he said.
Specifically, Nintendo discussed the potential for using Suica, a smart card currently used as train fare in Japan. This would be the first time a gaming console took advantage of an e-money payment system connected to the internet. The reasoning behind this potential integration is that it would, “expand the potential of Wii U’s digital business.”
There’s some pretty interesting stuff at play here. On one hand, it would certainly facilitate microtransactions and downloading eShop/Virtual Console games and DLC. At the same time, I don’t know the logistics behind such integration, or what types of security risks an e-card tied to personal information would pose. It would seem to me that if the only way to activate the payment would be to physically press your smart card to the Gamepad, a la PayPass or Google Wallet, there’s less risk of inadvertent or fraudulent charges.
Where do you folks stand on this idea? Would you like to see Nintendo go forward with expanding NFC integration? Or would you rather stick to the traditional methods of payment currently in place? Share your thoughts in the comments below.