Nintendo Set to Merge Handheld and Console Divisions in February

Nintendo to Unify Console Development Divisions

by Anton Shilov
01/17/2013 | 09:07 PM

In a bid to strengthen development team for its next-generation game consoles Nintendo will merge handheld and console divisions next month. The primary reason for a merge is obvious: speeding up development cycle of consoles to better compete with traditional and new rivals. The decision has both pros and cons.


Nintendo has been lagging behind Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. when it comes to hardware for more than a decade now. With technically outdated Wii, Nintendo managed to sell tens of millions of video game systems because it targeted non-core gamers and offered a very innovative motion-sensing controller. However, both 3DS handheld game console and Wii U video game system for TVs will hardly repeat the success of predecessors, the DS and Wii, because competing new-generation game consoles (PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 “Orbis”, Xbox Next) and forthcoming smartphones or tablets will offer better experience at similar price or similar experience at lower cost.

In an attempt to ensure that the following generations of game consoles will be more technically sophisticated and emerge on the market on time, Nintendo will bring the separate divisions together, opening a new unified sector that will include 130 console engineers and 150 handheld engineers, reports Gamasutra web-site citing a Nikkei publication that was confirmed by Nintendo.


With 280 engineers onboard, the new global console development division of Nintendo will most likely concentrate on creation of the next-generation handheld gaming system, which debuted almost two years ago. Thanks to higher headcount, the development cycle will likely take less time and will probably result into something considerably more advanced than smartphones or tablets that will be on the market when the next portable system from Nintendo emerges. Moreover, a unified division will likely be able to quicker and better respond to existing and emerging market trends.

On the other hand, without two development teams, Nintendo will be able to design only one game console at a time, not two in parallel. As a result, it is unclear how significantly the company will be able to shrink development cycles for portable and non-portable game consoles.