According to some estimates, the mobile gaming business will be worth $40 billion by 2017. That’s great news for mobile developers but for companies like Nintendo which make games for its own hardware, it means that it will have even more competition from smartphones and tablets. The success of mobile gaming won’t help the sales of its Wii U either, as the home console has been struggling for months.
But even though smartphone gaming is putting a dent in the Big N’s console sales, last year Nintendo said that “the spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It’s not that simple… It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones.” In 2012 CEO Satoru Iwata said “Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo” if the company started developing games for smartphones.
In a statement, Nintendo explains that “the alliance is intended to complement Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide.” All of Nintendo’s franchises are included in the deal, “including its iconic game characters” so fans are very likely to see Mario, Luigi and friends on smartphones and tablets soon.
The move makes sense, as it allows Nintendo to promote its franchises on smartphones and tablets, and it could encourage players to buy a Wii U or a 3DS for more content. That’s why Nintendo says that “only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created” and that it won’t just be porting games over from their existing consoles. Doing that could potentially harm the sales of the Wii U and the 3DS even more, which is the direct opposite of what Nintendo wants to do.
However, given the company’s track record with free-to-play games, some Nintendo fans may be worried. Earlier this year, Nintendo released the match-three puzzle game Pokémon Shuffle on 3DS. Shuffle gives players five hearts which are used up each time they play a round, but each heart takes 30 minutes to regenerate. Hearts can be filled back up with the use of ‘gems’ which cost money and so many felt that Nintendo was trying too hard to get players to hand over their cash. So now that Nintendo will be releasing more freemium titles, they will have to try hard not to alienate players with more decisions like this.
DeNA on the other hand, has been very successful when it comes to mobile gaming and it has worked with licensed properties before (Star Wars: Galactic Defense, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Final Fantasy: Record Keeper). Nintendo has that much faith in them that the house of Mario has even set up a capital alliance. In the deal, Nintendo will gain 15,081,000 of DeNA’s treasury shares (10% of DeNA’s stock) while DeNA will get 1,759,400 of Nintendo’s treasury shares (1.24% of Nintendo’s stock). That deal is set to be completed by April 2nd, 2015.
Nintendo and DeNA are also working on an “online membership service” that will be released this fall. It will be available on PCs, smartphones, Wii U and 3DS and is being “built on DeNA’s extensive experience and capabilities in online membership services.” DeNA already maintains Mobage, which is a gaming platform and social network that has 30 million users across the globe and, as Mobage is massively popular on iOS and Android, Nintendo may just be helping DeNA to bring it to more devices, rather than creating a brand new membership service altogether.
Which Nintendo franchise do you want to see on smartphones first? Do you think Nintendo has made the right decision?
Source: The Guardian