The end of an era may be near.
That Nintendo is planning to develop games for mobiles in collaboration with Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA has been known for quite a while now. What has not been known is the exact particulars of this deal, leading to a lot of speculation. However, to those of you who were worried (hoping?) that Nintendo’s mobile games would be throwaway efforts while the bulk of its development strength remained focused on its console and handheld efforts, you are in for a surprise- Hiddeki Konno, the man behind Mario Kart (including the marvelous Mario Kart 8), as well as some of Nintendo’s handheld efforts like the 3DS, has been assigned to spearhead Nintendo’s mobile development.
That’s not all, either- Nintendo has confirmed that it will pick out IPs to bring to mobile in a very careful way, and that it plans on having five games out on mobiles by March 2017.
“As we confirmed on March 17, all of our IP can be considered for a smart device game,” Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata said at a recent stockholder meeting. “On the other hand, since the game business on smart devices is already severely competitive, even with highly popular IP, the odds of success are quite low if consumers cannot appreciate the quality of a game. Also, if we were simply to port software that already has a track record on a dedicated game system, it would not match the play styles of smart devices, and the appropriate business models are different between the two, so we would not anticipate a great result. If we did not aim to achieve a significant result, it would be meaningless for us to do it at all. Accordingly, we are going to carefully select appropriate IP and titles for our smart device deployment.
“Regarding the number of the titles, you may want to know that we will release approximately five titles by the end of the next fiscal year, which is the end of March 2017. You may think it is a small number, but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business.
“We will strive to expand this business into global markets at a steady pace so that eventually we will entertain hundreds of millions of people all around the world. We are aiming to make this one of the pillars of Nintendo’s revenue structure.”
On the one hand, I am hopeful that Nintendo might manage to revitalize the stagnant and exploitative mobile gaming market, just as they did with the console gaming market all those years ago. On the other hand, I feel my heart sinking, as this seems to be a precursor to Nintendo’s efforts slowly being focused towards mobile game development.