The Nintendo Network is the Kyoto-based game maker's upcoming service that envisions digital game distribution and, most likely, downloadable content. Nintendo is outfitting the Wii U controller with tech that could radically change the way gamers shop.
"A big feature regarding the Wii U's controller is that we decided to embed it with NFC functionality," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in a recent analyst meeting.
NFC stands for "Near Field Communication", and it's a radio signal standard for smartphones that enables them to exchange data when in close proximity. In Japan, the feature is common in phones, allowing for digital money payments and things like embedded train passes. In the U.S., it's becoming increasingly common, and the next generation of iPhones is rumored to be NFC compatible.
While explaining that NFC allows for the data reading and writing and even a "new way of playing", Iwata also added that it allows for microtransactions. Thus, by outfitting the Wii U controller with NFC, it would enable owners to buy games without inserting their credit card numbers. Instead, they could simply "bump" or place their phone near the Wii U controller and transfer digital money or pay by credit card via their phone.
Thus, this could free Nintendo from the responsibility of managing and protecting players' credit card information, which, in light of last year's PSN hack, is probably desirable.
Nintendo isn't the first company to use digital money for online game purchases. Back in 2007, Sony released an e-money reader for the PlayStation 3. It was an optional attachment, and one that many gamers probably did not know existed. By having NFC onboard, Nintendo is rolling out what could very well be an entirely different way for gamers to buy games and content online.
Since Iwata did not provide exact details regarding how NFC would be implemented other that it can be used for microtransactions, Nintendo is expected to reveal at a later date just how Wii U owners will interact with NFC.
2012年1月27日（金）経営方針説明会 / 第3四半期決算説明会 [Nintendo]