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The Potential Of Pokémon: What Nintendo Could Do With NFC

Posted on Sunday, October 14 @ 06:38:16 PST by Alex_Osborn

The moment it was revealed that the Wii U GamePad would support near-field communication, I think just about every Pokémon fan's mind started racing at the possibilities of what Nintendo might be planning with their popular "Pocket Monsters" franchise. Anyone who has followed the game industry for some time is well-aware of the unpredictability of the Big N, so attempting to guess what they'll do is about a futile as trying to win the lottery. Fortunately for you, that's not going to stop me from providing you with my two cents.

For those that are unfamiliar with the technology, near-field communication (NFC) allows for communication (duh) between two devices in direct contact with one another. In the obvious case of Activision's Skylanders, the plastic Portal of Power stand acts as a communication portal that reads a chip embedded within each figurine. In the case of the Wii U, the GamePad is capable of acting just like that portal, leading one to wonder whether or not Nintendo will do something similar with Pokémon.

It would be downright insane for them not to. Aside from Mario, the Pokémon franchise is arguably the most valuable property Nintendo owns. If they go the obvious route and steal borrow the Skylanders model, there are a couple of ways they can go about it. If they adhere strictly to what Activision has done, I think that'd be a major mistake. In the case of Pokémon, the element of uncertainly and randomness is all part of the appeal. So if Nintendo does decide to release NFC-equipped figurines, it would behoove them to release the various monsters in randomized booster packs, with several common characters and a single rare in each pack. Not only does that capitalize on the collectable nature of the whole thing, it also encourages trading among friends, thereby fostering an entire community around the experience.

If they were to do this, they could play it safe and go the Pokémon Stadium route, which would be a simple and easy way to bring the monsters to life on-screen. I'm fairly certain this is the direction they would choose, as fleshing out an entire role-playing experience that would work alongside the toys just doesn't seem like the most practical option.

Then again, what if they scrapped the whole idea of toys and went the trading card route? NFC-enabled cards would be a great way to bring the experience to the big screen. Nintendo's flirted with the idea in the past during the GameCube era with the e-Reader, so a card-battling game using NFC certainly wouldn't be out of the question, especially in light of how successful Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers has been. Plus, the Pokémon trading card fanbase is already massive, so there's no doubt plenty of gamers would eat this up—not to mention the fact that printing pictures on cardboard is super cheap.

In the end, it's really not a matter of if, but when and how Nintendo decides to capitalize on the Wii U's NFC tech. There are plenty of obvious avenues for the company to take, but let's face it, Nintendo isn't one to always do what seems logical. Strangely enough, however, it often seems to work in their favor. Needless to say, the Wii U is full of potential, and we can't wait to see what kind of crazy concept Nintendo comes up with for Pokémon.

Tell GR: How do you think Nintendo should approach an NFC-centric Pokémon game?
Tags:   Pokemon, Nintendo, Wii U

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