Iwata: Nintendo Mobile Games Will Target Broad Audience

Thanks to the newly-translated Investors Q&A, we now have a clearer picture of Satoru Iwata’s imminent plans for Nintendo’s mobile business. He implied heavily that the company does not wish to imitate the winning formula of other companies for making money. Instead, they wish to target the widest number of people possible. It’s a very stubbornly Nintendo-like answer (emphasis added):

…I think many of you here already understand that while it was simple for many to earn revenue in the beginning just from creating a smart device application, the situation has been rapidly changing and now, with intense competition, generating revenue on smart devices is no longer easy. I don’t think we can realize what we aspire to by simply imitating a past success formula.

Regarding “how we receive money” from our consumers, while we understand that there are some methods or elements we should learn from or consider among the existing ways proven to work well on smart devices, it will not produce long-lasting results if we simply combine existing ways with Nintendo IP, even though we might make some short-term revenue. From a viewpoint of the business by regions, while it might work well in Japan, it will not in markets overseas, including new markets. Recently, I read an article that a successful smart device gaming company outside Japan said the Japanese market was very unique and what has been done here was totally different in structure. As we at Nintendo aim to reach all consumers around the world, we have no intention to analyze and follow successful examples in the Japanese smart device market. My understanding of how to succeed in the Japanese market now is to find a limited number of generous consumers who are willing to spend a lot and analyze what encourages them to spend. However, if we did that, I don’t think that we would be able to entertain hundreds of millions of consumers all around the world or to produce large and long-lasting achievements.

A key term should be “wide and small” rather than “narrow and large.” The basis of our strategy will be how we can receive a small amount of money from a wide range of consumers. However, as people in general recognize that the narrow-and-large method has been outperforming the others, we are investigating where to change in order to surpass existing hurdles. We have had various discussions internally, I have challenged the developers with this issue and they have had many active discussions on the topic. We already have some specific ideas and will announce them in due course. Above all, as Nintendo is a family brand, we do not intend on changing the situation where parents and guardians can give Nintendo products to their children with peace of mind. In that sense, we want to pay very close attention to how we receive money.

Nintendo going against the grain is absolutely nothing new for them. The Wii notably came from this behavior, targeting the widest audience possible in order to maximize Nintendo-like profits. However, the mobile space is cutthroat and rapidly changing, so who’s to know if Iwata’s plans to not bilk reliable customers on microtransactions (which his comments could be interpreted as) will pay off this fall? They aren’t beneath that noble intention, as Pokémon Shuffle can attest.

Nintendo does not plan to show mobile games at this year’s E3. So we will have to wait in due course to see the company’s radical plans.

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A man with a plan. My favorite video game franchise is Pokemon, but his favorite video game is Resident Evil 4. I can also tell you trivial cartoon factoids.