Over at Nintendo, the winds are changing. After a disappointing few years, with the Wii U home console underselling and falling well behind rivals such as the PS4 and Xbox One, it looks as though the gaming granddaddy is finding its feet again. Recently, Nintendo was proud to reveal that it has made a profit for the fiscal year, bringing the company into the black for the first time in four years.
The publisher has found great success recently, with high profile releases such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros pushing software sales up. Most importantly, however, Nintendo has found profit in a number of new business strategies. The Amiibo range of collectable gaming peripherals has proved incredibly popular, selling as well as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U over the holiday period.
Nintendo has also given plans for another revolutionary addition to its business strategy. This March, the publisher revealed that it would be working alongside developer DeNA to create a number of mobile games based on its most popular franchises. Now, Nintendo has announced its first finite details about this project, with a goal of releasing five mobile titles by March 2017 and making the smartphone market into “one of the pillars of Nintendo’s revenue structure.”
The news was revealed by CEO Satoru Iwata during Nintendo’s recent investors meeting. “We will release approximately five titles by the end of the next fiscal year, which is the end of March 2017,” said Iwata. Expecting some queries about the low number of games, he continued to explain that the publisher is looking at quality, not quantity. “We aim to make each title a hit,” Iwata said.
Nintendo is clearly looking to make its mobile development a significant part of its future business strategy. Iwata stated that the publisher will give a “serious commitment to the smart device business,” with a plan to help Nintendo’s franchises expand into new markets. To assist with this goal, the publisher is going to place the producer of Mario Kart in charge of development of the mobile titles. Although Iwata did not mention this producer by name, he is likely to be referring to Hideki Konno, who acted as producer on the recent Mario Kart 8.
The publisher, which has found success in breaking away from its normally traditional business models, will look to continue the profits found in the new ventures it has made over recent years. However, Nintendo will have to be careful to avoid falling into many of the traps of mobile development. It’s all too easy to go for a cheap pay-to-win model with mobile titles, with notorious examples such as EA’s Dungeon Keeper well documented. The much-loved publisher has received criticism over some of its recent practices, particularly regarding Amiibo shortages and the freemium business model of some Pokemon games, and Nintendo may wish to stay on the right side of its dedicated fanbase to turn this year’s profit into long-lasting success.