I've been beating this drum for a while: it makes no sense to me that Minecraft is on every game-playing platform you can think of other than Nintendo's 3DS and Wii U. Finally, I was able to ask Nintendo's top game designers about this.
In Los Angeles last week, I was sitting across from Shigeru Miyamoto, who oversees Nintendo's internal EAD game development teams, and Shinya Takahashi, who oversees the SPD teams. Between them, they have authority of everything from Mario to Zelda to Smash Bros. to the new Amiibo figures.
They don't necessarily make deals with outside developers and probably wouldn't be the people to call Minecraft creator Notch or his studio Mojang to get Minecraft on their console, but I figured that they must know about one of the world's most popular games and that, if they want it on their platforms, it'll be on their platforms.
"I haven't played it myself," Miyamoto told me, "But I have heard quite a bit about it." He gestured toward Takahashi. "I think he knows more about it than I do. But I like that style of game, and I look at Mario Maker as being something in a similar vein."
Mario Marker is Nintendo's forthcoming game that lets players create and share their own 2D Super Mario levels.
As for Takahashi, he did seem more familiar with the game. The sense I got is that Nintendo is interested in Minecraft insomuch as Nintendo could help Minecraft, though I tend to think of it more the other way around these days.
"We've always thought internally that using the [Wii U] GamePad would probably make for a Minecraft that's very easy to play," Takahashi told me. "And, of course, if we were to do something with Minecraft on the 3DS, similarly we would probably do it where it would be easier to play and could probably reach a lot of kids.
"What's interesting is that, in Japan, Minecraft is not popular in the way it is in the U.S. and Europe, so we've also thought that, if we were able to do a partnership like that, it might bring opportunity to help make Minecraft more popular in Japan."
I told both developers that I've seen and heard from numerous kids who are obsessed with the Swedish-developed indie game. Minecraft seems to be a lot of these kids' Mario, I said. Bringing it to Nintendo platforms would be interesting because I see the game on everything else, from Xbox to PlayStation to iPhone to Android. (The video atop this post is, alas, just a fan mock-up for a non-existent Wii U version.)
It feels like Minecraft is missing from Nintendo machines, I said.
"Our hardware is the only hardware that you can do both the touch control and stick control," Miyamoto replied, suggesting that, yes, it'd be a good fit.
"You've got to call them up and make it happen," I said.
He and Takahashi laughed.
"Maybe we're meeting with them!" Miyamoto said. "Who knows?"