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NXP and ePawn present NFC board game at GDC

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Linking traditional board games and mobile games to create a new gaming experience

At this year’s Game Developers Conference in Cologne NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) and French developer ePawn have been presenting the future of board games. The game concept is called ePawn NFC Arena and it unites two worlds that, on the face of it, seem like polar opposites: mobile games and board games.

The combination of NXP’s Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and ePawn’s patented object-tracking technology means that the game pieces always know exactly where they are on the board. The NFC technology registers every move the pieces make and transmits the information in real time from the analogue world of the board to the digital world of the players’ smartphones and tablets. Elements such as power-ups and event cards can also be incorporated via NFC. When a player puts an NFC-tagged card down on the board that gives his or her piece more attack points, the system will display this on screen in real time and will make the effect visible. It will therefore also be possible to have trading card games or similar based on this principle in the future.

Starting a game in the ePawn NFC Arena is remarkably easy. Players simply use their smartphones or tablets to connect to the ePawn NFC Arena via Bluetooth, or they can hook up a TV through a USB connection. As well as seeing the actual board game on the table in front of them, players also see a high-definition, virtual version of the board on their screens.

Christophe Duteil, co-founder and CEO of ePawn, is thrilled at the possibilities that the collaboration with NXP has opened up: “Our ePawn NFC Arena would not have been possible without the NFC technology from NXP. Together, we have moved the traditional board game to the next level. Our software development kit means game developers can take an entirely new approach to their work. What’s more, our fully customizable game boards and pieces have created new revenue potential.” One conceivable option, therefore, would be to use freemium-style models where users can purchase special figures separately or access them by winning tournaments.

Tvrtko Barbaric, head of gaming at NXP, is also fascinated by the possibilities of the ePawn NFC Arena: “We have been using our NFC technology with computer games for a long time, but now the cooperation with ePawn is showing that the future of gaming is not limited to a single medium. Networking is the magic word.”

Visitors to the Game Developers Conference Europe in Cologne, Germany, can try out the new ePawn NFC Arena gaming experience for themselves. If they stop by the NXP stand (Stand 178), they will also be able to experience the ways in which NFC is creating even closer links between the real world and the virtual world – and thereby ushering in the future of gaming.

NXP is the co-inventor of NFC. For more information on NFC, visit www.nxp.com/nfc.

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