Last year, Activision found runaway success with Skylanders—a toy-based video game that's become the top-selling console and handheld game worldwide in 2012, and has went on to sell over 30 million toys since it released. Each Skylanders toy features an RFID chip, which interacts when placed on the included Portal of Power.
RFID works in a similar manner to the Near Field Communication chip found in the Wii U GamePad, and with a little tweaking, could provide an opportunity to have the toys interact with the game via the Wii U GamePad, instead of the Portal of Power in an action akin to what was seen in a leaked Rayman Legends trailer. In the trailer, various NFC-capable toys were placed on the Wii U GamePad, causing in-game reactions based on what toy was used. This is exactly what happens when a Skylanders toy is placed on the Portal of Power.
Even though the capability is there, Skylanders' dev Toys for Bob has stated that they'll be sticking to the Portal for Skylanders Giants, an upcoming Wii U launch title, citing the fact that toys will slip off the Wii U GamePad as their reasoning.
At first, we looked at the NFC feature before we got the hardware specs and we were, like, 'Uh-oh, now everybody can do this'.
Then we saw the Raving Rabbids and the video that showed them putting the toy on the GamePad.
Said CEO and Director of Development for Toys for Bob Paul Reiche, adding:
Unfortunately, [Ubisoft] dropped that feature, and I think for potentially the same reasons, which is – for an ongoing game mechanic, it didn't seem well-suited, as you are holding the GamePad.
He did also add, however, that the idea of taking these toys mobile with the Wii U GamePad seems "compelling", but it's a relationship they'd have to explore in the future.
His reasoning is understandable, but it doesn't bode well for Nintendo that developers are already dropping support for a feature built into every Wii U GamePad; which carries some additional manufacturing cost to the Wii U.
Still, we wouldn't rule out the Wii U's NFC capabilities just yet—in fact we here at GR think it could be an ace up Nintendo's sleeve. We'll elaborate more in a separate article.