Nintendo to Make Phone App, Possibly Games As Well
Nintendo has an internal development team tasked with building a Nintendo app for smartphones and other mobile devices, President Satoru Iwata revealed during a Nintendo investor briefing today.
In a bit of a shock, Iwata also said there’s a possibility for this team to make games with famous Nintendo mascots, contradicting previous statements that Nintendo would stay out of the mobile game business, despite success from other publishers, such as Electronic Arts, Sega and Square Enix.
“It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings,” Iawata said, according to Nintendo’s own English translation of the briefing.
“I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters,” Iwata said of the mobile app team. “However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement.”
The app announcement came in the wake of news that Nintendo devices drastically underperformed when compared with expectations in the past calendar year. Nintendo significantly adjusted down its forecast for Wii U sales for the fiscal year ending March 31 — from 9 million units projected a year ago to a paltry 2.8 million forecast last week, which even takes into account the $50 price drop for Deluxe Wii U units.
This is a bad week for Nintendo, and the company is looking at trying some new things — including putting Nintendo DS games in the Wii U eShop, and building some kind of healthcare-related platform, along with some other vague concepts”
While Nintendo might make games with its mascots for mobile devices in the future, Iwata precluded the possibility of games developed for Wii U or 3DS being ported to phones.
So here’s what it comes down to: There are no Nintendo-branded games currently in development, or planned for development, for phones and tablets. Remember that. Iwata and Nintendo have always been amazingly forthcoming, so I do not believe that to be a misleading statement.
Nintendo has been badgered for years about delivering mobile games, and the company has always said it had no interest in doing that as an integrated hardware manufacturer. But the reason the issue has come up so often is that there is serious demand for Nintendo games among folks who are not willing to drop $300 for a console and another $100 on software in order to play an HD update of an old Zelda and the new-gen Mario, without lots of other appealing and diverse products to back up those purchases.
For all the complaints Square Enix has gotten in the past several years for dropping $16 RPGs on iOS and Android, the publisher keeps doing it because even new brands like its mobile Chaos Rings franchise have done well on those platforms. Does anybody in the house think Nintendo couldn’t also do that — do better than that — with original branded games or perhaps the occasional port of a 3rd or 4th gen title? That seems rather unlikely.
So if Nintendo’s mobile team has no restrictions on what sorts of apps to make or branding to use, and if Wii U sales don’t turn around quickly, it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time until Nintendo brands begin dominating all our mobile platforms. Just because Iwata says there are no plans today does not mean there won’t be tomorrow.
In truth, it was always an inevitability; but now we can feel safe in starting the countdown.