Once again, the Kyoto-based gaming giant leaves us scratching our heads. Nintendo recently announced it has partnered with Japanese mobile development house DeNA to help bring its renowned franchises to smart devices. This won’t be Super Mario World on your iPhone though—old games won’t be coming. Instead, new games that take advantage of the mobile environment will be the focus.
The idea of Nintendo developing smartphone games has been thrown around by investors and enthusiasts for as long as those devices have been around. Nintendo’s President and CEO, Satoru Iwata, explained countless times how this wouldn’t make sense for the company. The idea of Nintendo making mobile games was soon treated as a joke, with eyes rolling whenever it was mentioned.
Obviously, something has changed. With the Wii U, Nintendo’s latest home platform, performing very poorly, the company needs a way of establishing its brands to an audience that it is not currently reaching.
While at first shocking, the entire move makes sense after further thought. Providing consumers with games tailored to smartphones will increase revenue and raise brand awareness. With high quality control, these games will not devalue Nintendo’s brands and will also not act as a replacement for traditional series entries. These will act more as supplements that encourage people to consider playing a more fully-featured version.
Resources will likely be distributed in largely the same way as before too. DeNA is an experienced mobile developer, fully capable of creating appealing products. With Nintendo acting as an overseer, the titles created will be held to very high standards. Mobile projects developed internally at Nintendo may take away from those working on more full-fledged titles, but development for mobile games should not take very long. Underutilized development staff will be given a chance to work with a wider variety of Nintendo’s franchises as well.
Nintendo also recently announced that it will only release five mobile titles by the end of March, 2017. With a focus on quality over quantity, the company should be able to get the most out of the mobile market while still keeping its main focus on its own consoles.
Dormant series may also now be given a chance. Advance Wars, for example, hasn’t had a series entry in years. The slow-paced, strategic nature of the games would lend itself perfectly to a touch screen. Other franchises that many deem as underutilized can be developed in a low-risk way. These can also be used as a test to see if there is demand for more fully-fledged entries.
My initial reaction was that this is a bad move, but after much thought, Nintendo seems to have gone about this in the smartest way possible. Teaming up with a developer who actually has a footing in the mobile space allows Nintendo to have a huge headstart. With investors sated and most consumers happy, hopefully Nintendo continues to make progressive, worthwhile decisions in the future