Iwata: Wii U NFC to be used for payments or in-game, prototypes due this year

The Wii U GamePad includes a near-field communication function, but you wouldn't know it if you didn't, say, read obsessively about game consoles on the Internet. At the moment, no Wii U game uses it for anything, not even Skylanders, which ships with its own NFC reader.

Speaking to investors, CEO Satoru Iwata discussed potential plans for the tech, none of which have been finalized. Nintendo's ideas for NFC uses split in two directions: Skylanders-style toys and credit card reading.

"For example, we can create cards and figurines with NFC and design our video games to work in conjunction with them," Iwata said of the first possibility. "Also, an increasing number of arcade games are utilizing IC cards which can read and write data in order to record users' scores and it is possible for Wii U games to connect with them." Nintendo is working with "several" developers on ideas like this, "and, by the end of this year, we will probably be able to show you some output, tell you about some more concrete examples of the possibilities or even let you try out some tangible examples."

The other potential use of NFC, as discussed by Nintendo before, is for payment cards. "Technically, it is possible to settle an account by waving an e-money card over the Wii U GamePad," Iwata said. "We are conducting research into this right now as one of this technology's future possibilities." While NFC payments are more prevalent in Japan than elsewhere, there are lots of credit cards in America that can be used by tapping on the card reader. Setting your card down on the GamePad would certainly be more convenient than entering a number.

Whatever Nintendo does with the technology, Iwata is adamant that it had better do something. "Since we have made a certain investment in order to install NFC," he said, "we will make efforts to at least receive a return on our investment."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.