"Go third-party." That's the advice Nintendo has received for a long time. Even before the company shipped the massively-successful Wii, analysts have always been bearish on Nintendo's position as a hardware manufacturer.
But, so long as Nintendo's making games, they will not back down on making hardware. Nintendo of America senior director of corporate communications Charlie Scibetta told us that "Nintendo systems come to life the best when the hardware and software work in perfect harmony. That's why we're still in the hardware business, because we think our hardware is the best way to bring software to life."
"It's tuned perfectly for that. When Mario bounces from mushroom to mushroom, it feels so responsive because the software has been tuned especially for that hardware," Scibetta said.
Other companies are also introducing second-screen components into their games. For example, Ubisoft has companion apps for Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed 4. EA has "Commander Mode" controlled via tablet in Battlefield 4. Isn't Nintendo's competitive edge being taken away? "For Nintendo, having the second screen built right into the hardware means there's no learning curve, no lag, no technology curve to try and figure out how to use it," Scibetta argued. "When you talk about other companies utilizing a second screen, for us we wanted to have it built right in, that ensures that the software comes to life the way it was intended to be by the designer."
Oddly, very few games showcased by Nintendo at this year's E3 take advantage of the GamePad in meaningful ways. None of the company's biggest upcoming games--Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros, Mario 3D World--utilize the second screen significantly. So, what's the GamePad's marquee title? Scibetta's answer surprised us.
"I think that one game that we have in the booth here that does a lot of interesting things with the capabilities of Wii U is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD," he said, pointing to a port of decade-old game. "You can use the GamePad to take photographs, to write messages, and you can use Miiverse which is our online service, and you can actually put those screenshots in a Tingle bottle and send them out."