Nintendo Finally Goes Mobile After Years of Resisting


Nintendo controller. Image found on Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain.

Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Nintendo has finally agreed to make its popular games available on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Earlier this week, Nintendo announced a partnership with Japanese mobile game developer DeNA. Under the agreement, DeNA will use popular Nintendo game titles and characters to create entirely new games.

As the developer of more than 1,000 games aimed at Android and iOS devices, DeNA is expected to provide valuable know-how that will allow Nintendo to successfully launch its games in the mobile space.

While Nintendo has long developed games for its Game Boy and later DS series of devices, so far the Kyoto-based gamemaker has refused to develop games for the massive mobile market.

IT Media News, which covers gaming and consumer electronics in Japan, notes:

 任天堂は、これまで「マリオ」など既存タイトルのスマートフォン向け移植などは否定していた (link)

Until now Nintendo has rejected making Mario and other titles available on smartphones and mobile devices.

Popular Japanese tech reporter Yuka Okada, also writing for IT Media News, observes:


Nintendo really looks like it's making the leap to smartphones.

However, despite the success of the Wii home console launched in 2006, Nintendo has struggled since the 2012 launch of the next-generation Wii U console. The company lost money for the first time in 2013 ever, although 2014 saw a return to profitability.

Nintendo's slump in sales has coincided with the rapid adoption of smartphones around the world and mobile free-to-play games., which regularly publishes analysis about a variety of Japanese topics and then translates into English and other languages, points out:

 一方、据え置き型ゲーム機「Wii U」の販売が落ち込んだことも響いて赤字が拡大した (link)

The slumping sales of the Wii U standalone console continued to [affect Nintendo's bottom line], leading to ever growing losses.

At the same time that mobile games have challenges Nintendo's primacy, 2012's Wii U console has also been a disappointment in terms of its high price, and what users actually get for that price.

 ユーザーはおもしろいソフトを楽しむために、しかたなくハードを買うのだから、ゲームの命綱はソフトにこそある (link)

The only reason users bought Nintendo's consoles and other hardware was because they loved playing Nintendo's games. [Nintendo's intellectual property] is the company's only lifeline. 

By finally accepting the inevitable and moving to mobile, there is a sense that it's the end of an era for Nintendo.

Although Nintendo's decision to enter the mobile market is a sign of the times and is a business decision, it's a bit of sad situation.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata still says he feels confident about the future of console gaming, and has been quoted as saying, “No matter how popular smartphones and tablets become, as long as we can move with the times, there is no chance that dedicated games machines will disappear entirely.

Judging by the emoticons, not everyone may be convinced by Iwata's sense of confidence:

Nintendo President Iwata: “Nintendo has always been a bit of a contrarian in Japan. Saying ‘Here's what everybody else is doing, so let's do that’ is not interesting at all. We want to work hard and find a different path to success.”   (*゚∀゚)イイ!

At the very least, the partnership between Kyoto's Nintendo and Yokohama's DeNA has produced some interesting memes.

Nintendo is famous for Mario, while DeNA has gained fame for owning the Yokohama Baystars professional baseball franchise. The connection has resulted in a wry Internet meme in Japan:

While Nintendo is giving DeNA the rights to [Mario], it seems that he may already have been with DeNA for quite some time. 

It's said that Carlos Ponce, who played for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales (a precursor to the Bay Stars in the 1980's), bears a striking resemblence to Nintendo's Mario character.

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