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Nikkei: Nintendo to launch unified console and handheld division by February 16th (update: confirmed)

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Nintendo plans to merge its handheld and console gaming units into one division to create next generation hardware "that will turn heads," according to Nikkei. It's reporting that the gaming outfit is feeling the heat from tablet and smartphone gaming (and likely upstart outfits like Ouya, too) so is looking to speed up the development cycle and increase product interoperability. That's why it's allegedly bringing the brain power from all its divisions together to inaugurate the unified division by February 16th of this year -- transferring in 130 console and 150 handheld engineers, to start. Nikkei said it'll house the new team in a $340 million facility next to its Kyoto HQ that'll be completed by the end of the year, seeing it as "a hotbed of new ideas." All this comes on the heels of tepid launches of the Wii U console and Nintendo 3DS gamepad -- making a shakeup none too shocking, if true.

Update: We contacted Nintendo, who confirmed by email that the report is, indeed, accurate.

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