Nintendo confirms that its upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch, won't play Wii U optical discs or 3DS cartridges though it may be able to play smartphone games.
Nintendo's consoles have a long history of backward compatibility. Games on the original DS work on the 3DS, for example, GameCube games worked on the Wii and Wii games work on the Wii U. Naturally, the reveal of Nintendo's latest console, the Nintendo Switch, has also prompted gamers to ask whether the upcoming home console/handheld hybrid will continue that backward compatibility trend.
Unfortunately, it seems that the longstanding tradition is now coming to an end. Speaking to Famitsu (translated via Google), Nintendo reveals that the Nintendo Switch won't play Wii U discs, nor will it play 3DS cartridges, despite having a slot for cartridges of its own.
The company explains that this is because the Nintendo Switch is not being positioned as a "successor" to the Wii U or the 3DS, saying that it's "not appropriate" as the Switch "is a game machine that does not enter the scope of the existing "home for stationary video game machine."" Nintendo also says that it sees the Switch as "a completely new game machine."
Moreover, the company says that "at this time" it cannot answer whether the Nintendo Switch will support smartphone games. Nintendo's mobile gaming plans, which include Super Mario Run, are being seen as a big deal and it's hard to imagine that its new console won't somehow fit in with that.
On the one hand, Nintendo's decision not to make the Switch backward compatible can be seen as a smart business move. With the upcoming release of Pokemon Sun and Moon and the accompanying Sun and Moon 3DS XL models, enthusiasm for the Nintendo handheld isn't going away soon and the company won't want to prematurely encourage gamers to ditch their 3DS and buy the new hardware. It's also important to note that the Wii U was only released in 2012 and, despite its poor sales, Nintendo may want to milk as many sales as it can out of the beleaguered device.
On the other hand, though, this could have a significant impact on whether people choose to buy a Nintendo Switch at all. Price and battery life may be huge factors, but gamers may also feel that since the Switch won't work with their existing libraries of Wii U and 3DS games, there's no point in investing in a brand new system.