Ready for this bombshell? Nintendo confirmed to Engadget that they will be "[merging] its handheld and console gaming units into one division to create next generation hardware".
Are you nerd-raging yet?
Nintendo isn't saying anything more about it - I expect some sort of formal announcement soon - but this could simply be a more streamlined approach to the home console/handheld relationship, or something in the cards for the next-gen DS that would interact heavily with the Wii U, possibly even replacing or working alongside the GamePad.
If you recall back to August, I talked about this very functionality, simply asking Nintendo to "allow the 3DS to act as a controller for the Wii U". I summarized the functionality, asking them to not only allow the handheld to work as a controller for the home console, but to allow games to have interoperability; allow DS games to be played on the TV, and stream Wii U games to the handheld, ala GamePad.
This all sounds like a goddamned pipe-dream, but this news could shake up the traditional handheld/home console business plan they've had for 25 years. A handheld that works directly with your home console as the controller? I'm not talking about Remote Play that Vita/PS3 has, but direct connection. A full-featured controller that the handheld can be featured as. There's bits of evidence here and there, but they're starting to add up. You've got the GamePad itself, the second screen to your DS. Then you have Nintendo who says they essentially took the concept of the DS, and applied it to the living room; Miyamoto is quoted as saying "[Hiroshi] Yamauchi had no direct input in the development of the Wii U, but indirectly, you could say his idea from the DS is connected." Then, you have this announcement, about merging divisions.
I mean, why hasn't the GamePad been available for purchase since the Wii U's launch? I'm thinking - and this is as hair-brained as theories go - the GamePad is simply foreshadowing what the next-gen DS system will be, and what it can do.