Nintendo To Unite Console And Handheld Development Divisions

By Sato and Ishaan . January 19, 2013 . 12:30pm

On February 16th, 2013, Nintendo will be undergoing a restructuring for the first time in about a decade, according to a Nikkei report.  The re-structuring will involve merging Nintendo’s development divisions for home consoles and portables.


As part of the move, 130 console and 150 portable division engineers will be placed under a single division, which will be housed in Nintendo’s new building, which is currently being built next to its existing main headquarters in Kyoto.


The goal of the move, Nikkei reports, is to enable Nintendo to develop future hardware that will “turn heads” and to do it quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Nintendo are looking to increase interoperability between their devices, including the possibility of using Nintendo portables as controllers for their home consoles, as well as the ability for users to take their games with them on the go.


Nikkei’s report states that the rise of smartphone technology and its popularity is the main factor that led to this decision by Nintendo, as they look forward bolstering their hardware development in order to compete on a global scale.


A shakeup of this scale hasn’t happened at Nintendo in a while. The last time the company went through a similarly significant restructuring was in 2002, when Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, took ahold of the reins and organized Nintendo into its existing structure, with software development teams divided primarily into the EAD (Entertainment Analysis & Development) and SPD (Software Planning & Development) teams.


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  • Ethan_Twain

    I’ve gotta say, it is past time this happened. Nintendo has traditionally supported console/handheld interactions on some level, but it’s never become an integral part of their ecosystem. Games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles have always been an exception, rather than a rule. I imagine with the hardware divisions under one roof things like using a handheld as a controller will be the least of the synergy. Maybe they’ll get their devices to share an account and unify the eShop. Maybe they’ll integrate the Wii store into the eShop. Maybe DS software can become available as Wii U downloadables. Maybe Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS will be able to multiplayer with each other locally and online. Maybe Wii U’s can become spotpass broadcasters.

    There’s a lot of potential here to be capitalized upon.

  • Spirit Macardi

    This is probably a brilliant move on their part. With the Wii U blurring the line between a home console and a handheld, doing the same with the development teams could work out well. Plus it allows for more blending of talent in-general.

    • QBninja01

      Then lets say

      Good luck!

  • Wake

    Sounds like they’re really planning to merge the console and handheld into one platform. I’m more interested on how this can benefit the Wii U and 3DS. I’m curious on what kind of integration between the two they can come up with.

  • This is great news, mainly on the ‘possibilities’ front. Nintendo has always done interesting things, but putting the creative power of both their Handheld and Home Console divisions together could lead to some things that would be very exciting. The possibilities for more usage of the connectivity is also very exciting. I cannot wait to see what they do here!

  • This can only mean one thing. Nintendo is planning something big. Mr. Miyamoto did state that they were already working/planning the next Nintendo handheld. Things can only go up from here, right?

    • Wake

      This is all speculation but if it turns out to be a Console/Handheld hybrid, I’m hoping it gets released 4 years from now. The life cycle of the last generation of consoles was just too long. If Nintendo follows the cycle it had for the N64 and GC, they can position themselves again with Sony and MS and not get screwed in terms of console power. Two birds with one stone, a new console and handheld in one package.

      • puchinri

        Huh. That would be interesting. I wouldn’t mind that as much. I was thinking the Wii wasn’t released that long ago, but looking back, it has been seven years since. Admittedly, depending on how they handle revisions to their consoles in-between times, I wouldn’t mind a shorter life cycle.

      • I suspect that both the 3DS and Wii U are stopgap products, meant to hold things over until Nintendo figure out what their long-term game plan is.

        This restructuring has been in the works for some time now. We’ve known about Nintendo’s new R&D building for a couple of years at least.

        Also, this news only pertains to their hardware development teams. Software should be even more interesting. Right now, Nintendo’s primary software divisions are split between two separate locations in Kyoto. (This is not counting developers like the EAD Team in Tokyo and the two Monolith Soft studios)

        • sd28

          i agree with what you said except the whole stop gap thing since it doesn’t really make much sense to me to do so

        • Uh designing new styles of hardware comes first they develop software based on the innovations in the hardware. No need to merge those. I think the hardware merge holds much more interesting possibilities

          • It isn’t a question of just interesting possibilities, it’s also a question of efficiency and sharing resources across the EAD and SPD groups, which could help speed up development.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Nintendo is planning something big…….

  • puchinri

    Huh. That’s fascinating. I’m really interested in seeing where/how this goes, and as always, I look forward to everything that comes of it.

  • Nesfe

    That’s a great idea. My perfect hardware would be one game cartridge that works on both the new Handheld and Console. The game would run on different settings depending on whether or not it’s running on the handheld (720p, medium texture setting, lower polygon count) or on the console (1080p, High res textures, High polygon count).

  • Göran Isacson

    So the dudes making hardware are going to be working in the same place, and probably swapping ideas back and forth to integrate the devices more. My first instinct is that this will probably lead to the next “big” console from Nintendo to be some sort of combination console- that the next “Game Boy” and the next stationary console won’t be so much separate things, but integrated parts that form a whole, but I have no idea if that makes any business sense or not so I’ma just refrain from speculating on that.

    But for those in the technological knowhow, how did Ninty’s last restructuring work out for them? I’ve heard EAD a lot but very little about SPD, what were their respective roles and what did they accomplish?

    • Nintendo’s last restructuring led to the DS and Wii, so Iwata definitely had the right idea when he restructured the company. It wasn’t just the restructuring, though. His vision at the time was basically that games in general were becoming too focused on the same audience, and because of this, they weren’t attracting more people to them. That’s why DS and Wii went off on their own tangent.

      As for EAD and SPD… EAD as you are the usual Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, Wii Sports, Animal Crossing etc. folks. EAD is overseen by Miyamoto as its general manager and are responsible for the “heavy-hitters” from Nintendo.

      SPD is the more interesting department. It’s overseen by Iwata and is smaller than EAD in terms of internal development staff. What SPD usually does is, the department oversees Nintendo games that are developed by external studios. So, SPD were involved in Xenoblade, Sin & Punishment 2, Metroid series, Pandora’s Tower, Style Savvy, Punch-Out, Fire Emblem etc.

      • Göran Isacson

        That IS a pretty damn good restructuring then- thinking of what the gaming world would be like without those two is kinda mindboggling.. Wonder if this latest restructuring will be as succesful

        Aaah, so they’re the ones giving feedback/tips to Nintendo’s working partners? meaning they’re most likely involved with, say, Bayonetta 2 and such?

        • Bayonetta 2 is kind of an unknown. At one point, Kamiya said Nintendo were involved (and we reported it), then later retracted his statement (at which point, I swore to myself I’d never report anything he says on Twitter again).

          But yeah, SPD work very closely with Nintendo’s external developers and third-party studios. They work with Monolith, Retro Studios, Monster Games, Syn Sofia, Next-Level Games, Intelligent Systems, Ganbarion (for Jump Super Stars and Pandora’s Tower) and so on, and influence the things they do.

          For example, in the case of Xenoblade, the SPD producer, Hitoshi Yamagami, asked Monolith Soft to adopt Nintendo’s way of developing games. Ie; coming up with a prototype and gameplay first, instead of developing the story first.

          • This is pretty much why Nintendo’s systems tend to do pretty well, their focus is spread out to include as many people from different groups as possible, not cater to any one particular person, and it tends to work in their favor. Even if it’s a family friendly or a niche/indie title, there’s going to be something to draw people into their systems.

          • Yeah, people have this perception that Nintendo only develop hits, but that’s far from being the case.

            A lot of their casual/widespread games start out really slowly and then spread to a larger and larger audience over a period of several years. Style Savvy, Tomodachi Collection etc. Not everything is an instant hit like Wii Sports or Wii Fit.

            That’s how you ideally go about expansion, too. You’re never going to suddenly get millions of people to buy into your product all at once. You have to do it bit by bit, reaching out to different niches, seeing what works, where there’s potential etc.

          • Precisely, now if other companies would follow this business model–and not just gaming companies at that–and treat their workers and customers like people and not slaves and saps, the world be a better place….and we would actually get Mega Man Legends 3. No I will not let that go.

          • puchinri

            I’m going to assume that reporting anything Kamiya says from twitter is dangerous? Only because of the amusingly trollish things he’s done though. (I would assume the rest of Platinum have non-trollish twitters though?)

          • Yeah, Kamiya recently posted that he got chewed out for his behaviour on Twitter, hahaha. A few months ago, he actually did post informative things every now and then, but his Twitter feed is basically garbage now. Can’t blame the guy, though. He has retards messaging him on Twitter all day and calling him names. :/

          • puchinri

            Awww, haha. That’s unfortunate, but I can see why I suppose.

            Yeah, I feel bad for him. He really keeps a good demeanor and mentality for all he goes through. It’d be nice if they left him alone, but it won’t happen soon if at all.

          • sd28

            i dont think the kotaku article helped much in that regard

          • Göran Isacson

            Never knew that Style Savvy was also developed in co-operation with SPD. I presume they don’t have their fingers in EVERY third-party baked pie that gets released out of the Nintendo bakery (boy that simile got away from me fast), but I am curious now as to how deeply they get involved, WHICH titles the get involved with and why, and so forth. Interesting tidbit about the Xenoblade development process- I hear so much about how one is supposed to “merge” gameplay and story these days, that dividing the two as Nintendo apparently does (first come up with gameplay, then story to suit the gameplay) strikes me as an interesting example to study in oppisition to the modern “merging” method. I do wonder which works best for developers…

          • Actually, SPD are involved with virtually every game that’s published by Nintendo but developed by an external studio, whether it’s one of Nintendo’s own or third-party. The reason they’re involved is for quality control and to pass down Nintendo’s own experience where necessary.

            The extent to which they provide input varies from title to title but they’re almost always involved. That’s SPD’s job.

            In the case of Xenoblade, the reason they pushed for gameplay first was because they wanted an idea of how long it would take to complete the game.

            What Monolith usually do is, they come up with the universe, worldview and characters, all recorded in a nice thick document. After that, they begin transforming all that material into a game and changing it as they go along.

            In the case of Xenoblade, they only started out with the loose outline of the game taking place on the bodies of two gods. What SPD did in that particular situation was, they asked Monolith to come up with one complete area for Xenoblade, like a vertical slice of the game. The reasoning being, since it was going to be such a big game, doing one area to full completion would give a good idea of what challenges would pop up along the way.

            Once that vertical slice/prototype was complete, then they went on to create the rest of the game.

          • Göran Isacson

            Wow, virtually ALL games? That is some pretty heavy involvement, and I can see how it contributes to the narrative of Nintendo as both control-freaks and perhaps a bit hard to work with that I see, at least in most indie-developers who released titles for the online services.

          • No no, involved with all games that are published by Nintendo, but not necessarily developed in-house. They aren’t involved with stuff that’s strictly third-party.

          • Locklear93

            It’s also worth noting that requiring a vertical slice isn’t particularly invasive of SPD. Vertical slices are a fairly standard part of presenting to a publisher, and are a great way for marketing to figure out early on how to portray a game to the public and press.

          • Yeah, and in the case of games like Xenoblade, especially, where you’re creating this huge world, a vertical slice gives you a very good idea early on, of the kind of effort and time it would take to populate it with enough events and content.

            Personally, I’m very glad that Nintendo were so insistent on that front. Even their own games on the EAD side (Twilight Princess comes to mind) have had trouble with huge worlds that actually feel like they’re alive, so I’m happy to see that at least Monolith’s titles won’t suffer from that same problem.

  • Leon_Tekashi

    If things work out, this will be what Nintendoes and sonydon’t. Bad joke, I know.

  • gsnap

    This is good news, but I hope that the goal of this restructuring isn’t focused solely on their next piece of hardware 4-5-6 years from now. I hope that a short-mid term goal is to increase connectivity between the Wii U and 3DS as they stand already. They’re heading that way with certain things (Monster Hunter, Miiverse, etc.), but more needs to be done. The main thing needed is one account that works for both systems. If I buy a virtual console game on Wii U, and that same game is supported on the 3DS virtual console, then I need to be able to download it there for free. Perhaps even cloud saving for literal pick up and play. Perhaps that won’t be possible for them until they’re next hardware, but it’s definitely the direction they need to go in.

    • NO. NO NO NO NO NO, keep cloud OUT OF GAMES FOR THE LOVE OF ARCEUS. Do you people know what it is you are doing? I dont care about the convenience(its more convenient for companies rather than the consumer) I’d actually like to own what it is I purchase. Not have it sitting on some server where the companies can do what they like with it.Servers also are susceptible and need to be monitored. It also lacks privacy. Its bad enough we have the likes of Sony filing patents to allow them to place advertisements in games.

      • Duplicating saves to a cloud server would mean you would need to handle a lot of data yet still retain the save on the hardware.

      • gsnap

        Well, I’m only talking about cloud saves, not actually having games solely in the cloud like Onlive (That crap is obviously dumb for consumers). Having save files in a cloud server, however, is different. Obviously you would also need to have the save files in your system as well, as backup just in case, but as long as you have that backup, having quick and painless transfer and access between systems is a good thing.

        The only other option is to actually transfer the data yourself whenever you want to switch between them. Which wouldn’t to too much of an inconvenience, but having it in the cloud would be faster and equally as safe (as long as you have the backup).

        I completely agree that having a full game on a cloud server only is stupid, (like you said, it’s better to actually own what you buy) but save files on your hardware as well as a cloud server is nothing but convenience.

        • Yeah well they need money for each server so they can duplicate the saves and still process the data.

          • gsnap

            They need money for everything they do.

      • CirnoLakes

        So you don’t own something if you can’t hold it in your hands?

        Technically speaking, you don’t even own much of the things you hold in your hands always, often far less then the digitally owned things you have ownership rights to.

        Tampering with something like a PlayStation 3 is basically illegal. And there’s many people who consider game mods to not fall under fair use. In essence, even though I have a PlayStation 3, I don’t have many legal rights to go along with it.

        And those Wii game cases I own? Somebody could invalidate my legal right to use them tomorrow.

        What you own is what you have the legal right to own, not what you hold in your fingers. This is a bad justification for physical media.

  • Nintendo: Gradually working on their world domination plans.

    Also the Real-Life version of Team Rocket, out to steal all of your monies and take over the world.

  • neospite

    Till all are one

  • $39420547

    maybe in the future home console and handhelds will be one and the same

  • So, how long before theres an adapter that lets me play DS/3DS games on my WiiU?

    • Spirit Macardi

      I would buy something like that on day one.

      I miss when Nintendo would do that. The Super Game Boy and Game Boy Player were awesome peripherals, though I understand why something like that couldn’t be on the original Wii since it had only one screen. This time though, there’s no excuse.

  • phangtom

    “as well as the ability for users to take their games with them on the go.” Don’t like the sound of that, could head towards the direction of the Vita where people will just perceive it as a console for ports, but on the go.

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