Nintendo President Gives In, Says Mario and Friends Coming to Smartphones

After years of back and forth, Nintendo has finally decided to embrace mobile: Hard-core Mario fans can expect to play the game on their iPhone or iPad sometime in the future, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Nds emulator landscape

Nintendo and DeNA provided few details of the business model for the new game platform, but [Nintendo President Satoru] Iwata said appears to have softened his opposition to free games. […]

The companies said they would introduce a new game distribution portal this autumn, which will be the only way for owners of smartphones and other mobile devices to gain access to Nintendo games. The portal will also be accessible via Nintendo’s game consoles.

This is U-turn in the company’ strategy, since until now Nintendo has followed its traditional, console-based business model, and refused to even licence its iconic characters for mobile use. However, this has come at a cost: Nintendo has recorded three straight years of operating losses through the 12 months ending March 31, 2014.

“By tapping into the smartphone we can increase the number of Nintendo fans,” Mr. Iwata said. “No company in any industry can survive if they fail to adjust to changing market environments.”

The game developer plans to end that chapter through a new strategic partnership with DeNa, a Japanese game provider. The companies will exchange ownership stakes and set up a new mobile game platform.

The partnership with DeNa means that Nintendo fans will see Mario, Pokémon, Metroid, Donkey Kong, and other iconic figures in a new series of mobile games created by DeNa. The company said it would develop new games based on its characters, rather than adapting existing console games, in order to optimize the mobile experience, according to the WSJ.

Nintendo won’t give up on consoles, though: It is planning a new one code-named NX. The DeNa partnership is for breaking into new markets where its consoles have struggled. As previous reports have revealed, the smartphone market potential is huge: A game inspired by the original Pokémon games, Micromon, quickly hit the top 50 most-downloaded apps chart for iPhone and iPad, and maintained its position for a long time.

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • Al

    So… not for iOS by the sounds of it.

  • Why would they alienate hundreds of millions of iOS users, that are known for spending money on apps?

  • FragilityG4

    Bring Mario 3 and I’ll be happy.

  • Al

    I assume that they want total control. I can only go from what’s written above since I don’t have an account with the WSJ, but it sounds like they may go freemium. I guess they don’t want to give up any of the “ium” to Apple.

  • FragilityG4

    They’re losing money every year … I don’t think they’re in the position to ignore iOS.

  • Al

    Perhaps they feel they will make enough with Android and Windows to get by??? I don’t know. The percentage of companies making profitable iOS apps is very low, but I would think Nintendo would do well. It’s a company that has been resistant to this sort of thing so releasing some profits to Apple may be a “from my cold dead hands” kind-of thing.

  • I hear if you Google search the title of a WSJ story…magic happens *cough*
    Back to the story. The developer Nintendo teamed up with has made iOS games before. So there’s a good chance iOS will be included.

  • FragilityG4

    To me it seems to be give up a little profit or head towards bankruptcy …

  • Al

    All I know is what is quoted above…
    “The companies said they would introduce a new game distribution portal this autumn, which will be the only way for owners of smartphones and other mobile devices to gain access to Nintendo games.”

    That seems quite clear. And Apple doesn’t allow that sort of thing, soooo… no iOS support.

  • Al

    Thanks for the tip. I wasn’t aware of that.

  • CanucksGoals

    Nintendo has deep deep pockets and tons of game licensing. They have position to do whatever but I do agree that ignoring iOS is not a good idea.

  • FragilityG4

    Something over there must not be jiving if they’re caving on their adamant stance opposing mobile platforms …

  • CanucksGoals

    Nintendo bankrupts? You are talking about a company that has absolutely zero debt, billions of dollars in cash sitting in the bank, and billions worth of investment and licensing. Even if Nintendo just sit there, eat and fart all day, they are going to last at least a few decades if not century. 🙂

  • CanucksGoals

    I agree.

  • FragilityG4

    Business changes quickly, anything can happen … Ask Enron.

  • Al

    Enron?! Really?!? Something didn’t “just happen” with Enron.

  • FragilityG4

    My point is that Enron was regarded not only as one of the must financially successful companies, but a sure bet for stock security. No one saw the collapse coming as Lay and Skilling were covering their tracks.
    Public perception can often be different than reality.