Based on the business trends going on… especially with how badly Generation 8 is going for Nintendo (though it is even worse for Sony in the handheld)… here is what I think is a good probability of what is going to happen.
In business matters, I prefer to talk in terms of probability.
Backwards Compatibility Removed From Home Console? High Probability
Why: The reason why Nintendo put in the backwards compatibility is to lessen the TRANSITION PHASE. Iwata says the TRANSITION PHASE is the most dangerous part of the console cycle. The data that shows backwards compatibility helps remove the TRANSITION PHASE comes from two lines of consoles: the PlayStation line and Nintendo’s Handhelds.
Imagine you are Iwata. You put backwards compatibility into the Wii because, looking at the data, you see that the dominant home console is the PS2 which has backwards compatibility. Gameboy and DS had backwards compatibility, and Nintendo was never in real danger in their handheld line-up.
Putting it into the Wii U made sense. The Wii had backwards compatibility and did very well. The PS3 did NOT and did not do that well.
Now that the Wii U did not do well and the PS4 has done well, they have blown to smithereens that backwards compatibility is necessary to consoles. Backwards compatibility is very expensive cost to a console and we are in a recession if not a depression. I expect a high probability that it will be cut.
For the 3DS successor, I expect it to still be there but function like the 2DS. No 3d oooh-lalala with the backwards compatibility but games will still be playable. 3d effects are too expensive hardware wise to retain just for backwards compatibility.
Nintendo handheld and home console games playable on both handheld and home console hardware? Probable.
Game development has grown to such an extent that assets have to be shared on both handheld and home console systems. So, already, there will be similar software architectures between the two. Nintendo is in a pickle in that Japan only buys handhelds and everyone else buys mostly home consoles. Turning the Wii U into a semi-handheld didn’t spark any interest for Japan. With the Wii U Gamepad technology, that could be placed inside the 3DS successor. It is not in Nintendo’s financial interest to make their handheld and home console software line up so obtuse from one another.
There is precedent in the past of Nintendo allowing handheld games to be played on home console and vice versa. The Super Nintendo (SNES) and Gameboy Player (Gamecube) were Nintendo putting out hardware that allowed handheld games to be played on the console. Ports of the home consoles have populated the handheld line-up for years, not unique software. The best selling games on the Gameboy Advance were the Super Mario Brothers ports from the NES and SNES consoles. The DS best selling games were designed to be in the spirit of SNES. Aside from Touch Generations, where is the big successes from ‘unique handheld only software’? All the handheld games are ports or mobile designed versions. Nintendo’s game population is also very diversified in ages now. People older than 30 are not going to buy a gaming handheld. People younger than sixteen will most likely have a gaming handheld.
Nintendo makes their money from the software, not the hardware. If you just buy one console and play all the games on that, they don’t care.
The Smash Brothers on 3DS and U may be a forerunner of Nintendo releasing the same game twice and how they plan on going forward. I hope this isn’t how they do it. I’d rather the solution be in the hardware instead of a team designing a handheld version as they design the home version.
Nintendo 3DS and Wii U successor will be much cheaper? Probable.
In this recession, especially where retail is getting pounded and Japan is spiraling into a depression, I can see Nintendo going the Wii route. “Make as cheap as possible!”