Nintendo Outlines More Details on Mobile Plans

Back in March, Nintendo shocked the world with their allied partnership with mobile company DeNA. It was a move calculated to create a uniting infrastructure as well as create mobile games to reach a wider audience. Not much has been said since the deal was announced, but through the latest Fiancial Briefing, Nintendo has spoken of their intentions for the near-future in mobile expansion.

Iwata said that a meager five games will be launched from this fall to early 2017, emphasizing quality over quantity. He also affirmed that DeNA is helping to build a new membership infrastructure to replace Club Nintendo. The full statement reads thus (emphasis added):

We will start the service for the first game application by the end of this calendar year. Internally at Nintendo, we have executed several organizational and personnel changes in order to properly operate the smart device business, and we will make further changes before the first release.

As we confirmed on March 17, all of our IP can be considered for a smart device game. On the other hand, since the game business on smart devices is already severely competitive, even with highly popular IP, the odds of success are quite low if consumers cannot appreciate the quality of a game. Also, if we were simply to port software that already has a track record on a dedicated game system, it would not match the play styles of smart devices, and the appropriate business models are different between the two, so we would not anticipate a great result. If we did not aim to achieve a significant result, it would be meaningless for us to do it at all. Accordingly, we are going to carefully select appropriate IP and titles for our smart device deployment.

Regarding the number of the titles, you may want to know that we will release approximately five titles by the end of the next fiscal year, which is the end of March 2017. You may think it is a small number, but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business.

…When we announced our business alliance with DeNA, we announced an “integrated membership service,” with the mission of establishing a bridge between smart devices and dedicated game systems. The membership service will encompass multiple devices such as our existing Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, the dedicated game system NX, which is currently under development, smart devices and PCs.

Curious to note, Iwata had previously stated that no Nintendo IP would be off-limits for a mobile title. However, his words here indicate that IP will actually be curated based on marketability, rather than the ‘anything goes’ approach many thought was going to be the case (no Fire Emblem mobile game for you).

Hideki Konno also produced the Nintendogs series

We also have a better idea of who will lead development on these mobile games (it’s not DeNA). News outlet Sankei reports that Iwata has appointed “the Mario Kart producer” to lead the charge. This has been inferred to be Hideki Konno, a long-time producer at Nintendo. As Iwata says, “it should help you understand the level of commitment from Nintendo.”

Iwata hopes that their games will eventually entertain “hundreds of millions of people” around the world in due time. Overall, the slow approach to mobile gaming is very typical Nintendo, but it’s reassuring to hear that they have a top man in charge with Mr. Konno leading development.

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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.