Nintendo comes with Skylanders-esque figurines and releases smartphone app

Nintendo is developing physical figures that can communicate with both the Wii U and the 3DS. The figurines connect to consoles through near field communication. Nintendo is also coming with a Mario Kart 8 smartphone app.

At Nintendo, the figures are currently known under the working title NFP: Nintendo Figurine Platform. Nintendo does not see NFP as an accessory or software product, but as a standalone platform that can be used for various games. 3DS users must first put a frame on a special NFP reader to connect. The NFP reader then connects to the 3DS via infrared. The Wii U gamepad can connect to a figurine by its built-in NFC function without the special reader. After the connection is made, the character becomes playable on the console.

According to Nintendo, a number of games are already compatible with the new platform and more will follow soon, according to the console builder. It is not clear which games are involved. The first NFP products should be released sometime in the first half of next year. Nintendo plans to reveal more details about NFP and the reader at this year’s E3. The concept of NFP is very similar to Skylanders games from publisher Activision. That concept was previously copied by Disney, which launched the comparable Disney Infinity in 2013.

Nintendo also announced that Mario Kart 8 will be expanded with Mario Kart TV. Among other things, it allows players to share race highlights videos with friends by uploading them to a dedicated server. The Mario Kart TV feature will be available through a dedicated website and app that will allow users to watch official Nintendo videos and various score sheets in addition to friends’ videos, according to Nintendo. Users can log into the app with their Nintendo Network ID to view their personal stats.

The announcement of NFP and the Mario Kart 8 app comes a day after Nintendo’s 2013 annual figures were announced. The Japanese company is again struggling with a loss, partly due to the poor sales of the Wii U. In total, 6.2 million Wii U consoles were sold, while the company had hoped to sell 9 million Wii Us a year ago.