Do the disappointing sales of the Wii U mean Nintendo will finally bring Mario to Android?

by: Gary SimsJanuary 20, 2014

nintendo wii u screen

It has been a bad weekend for Nintendo. On Friday the company announced that it expects to make a loss of some $335m for the financial year ending 31 March 2014. It also altered its sales forecast for its Wii U games console. Originally Nintendo estimated it would sell 9 million Wii U units but it has now cut its forecast by nearly 70% to 2.8 million units. The company also reduced the sales forecast for its 3DS console from 18 million to 13.5 million units.

As a result of this bad news industry analysts have renewed calls for Nintendo to release its games on smartphones and to abandon the production of consoles. Nintendo is the creator of some of the most iconic games and characters including Super Mario and Zelda that would likely be very popular on mobile platforms. The good news is that it looks like Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata is considering the move to mobile.

“Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business,” Iwata said during a press conference on Friday. However he did add that “it’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”

[quote qtext=”If we think 20 years down the line, we may look back at the decision not to supply Nintendo games to smartphones and think that is the reason why the company is still here.” qperson=”Satoru Iwata” qsource=”” qposition=”left”]In the past Nintendo has only released games with its key characters on Nintendo hardware. Back in June Iwata told the Wall Street Journal that the company’s decision to not release Nintendo games on smartphones could be the reason why the company will survive over the next 20 years. In the past this trick worked well and helped boost demand for the original Wii, which sold more than 100 million units. However the launch of the Wii U was marred by delayed game releases from Nintendo itself.


The advent of powerful smartphones and tablets capable of sophisticated 2D and 3D gaming has changed the gaming landscape. Since the original 2006 release of the first Wii the consumer electronics market has seen some radical changes with the iPhone launch in 2007. By 2011 all the major consumer electronics companies including Samsung, LG and Sony released popular smartphones and tablets. Like the declining PC market, the latest results from Nintendo show that some business models from before 2010 really don’t apply today.

Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, ran some numbers by Bloomberg and he calculated that Nintendo could release 10 games a year at $5 to $10 a piece and generate somewhere between $2.5 billion to $5 billion a year without the expense of making consoles. Nintendo has a library of around 1,500 titles and it would likely sell millions of copies of its most popular games.

Nintendo wouldn’t be the first console maker to exit the hardware market, Sega did the same in 2001 and today it is a very profitable games developer with its releases available on the Playstation, the Xbox, the PC and on mobile devices.

As Nintendo is considering the impact of smartphones on its business model, some analysts are already predicting that Mario is coming to mobile.

What do you think?

  • No, Absolutely not. Nintendo’s
    first party games are far too valuable to license to competitors, they
    need to release FULL back catalog of games ASAP on Wii U. Right now
    their strategy is all over they place, they need to refocus.

    • Keg Man

      sad thing is, how do you magically get everyone on board? they had a year head start on the other consoles to get developers to toy with their stuff, but they failed to get their attention which in turn, failed to get our attention. Why Nintendo never has a giant game ready at release blows my mind.

  • MasterMuffin

    Nintendo has always been against others gaining anything from its products, so I believe it won’t bring any apps for anything

    • Mike Bastable

      Basically I agree…hell will freeze over before Nintendo allows its stuff on anything open source. They are right to do so, Mario’s value lies in it’s ties to Nintenodo. Wii U is bad but they will come back with something. The spectre of what happened with Sonic and Sega will ensure NO other platforms for them.

  • Shark Bait

    I think they need a phone and a competitor to the ipod touch.
    They should run android but their chips should have some propriety instructions that allow it to run mario and others. The only way they can compete is to go mobile!

  • Luka Mlinar

    They killed the whole thing with the Wii and the DS. Consoles made for 3 year olds and pensioners. They have been neglecting their fans for some time. It kind of got to the point where i don’t really care about what the plant to do or release. Thank god for emulators.

    • Esche

      Previous gen Wii and DS are good and quite successful.
      It’s current Wii U & 3DS that’s total failure.

      Not counting those awful Pokemon XY on 3DS. B2&W2 are the last good pokemon games.

      • Tim

        Yeah it sold well, but was it really good? How many Wii consoles are eating dust now? While Xbox and ps3 is still widely played

        • Keg Man

          i agree. everyone I know bought about 5 wii games and about 15ish games for the other platform. I was disgusted with my wii due to this factor and happily sold it. Dont forget wii had a giant boost due to the Wii fit idea at the end of its cycle.

        • Esche

          Well, yeah even Wii is nothing compared to x360 & ps3. But then Wii U is even worse.

      • mustbepbs

        You’re calling the 3DS a failure? That’s rich. Apparently you missed all the sales information around the web over the past year where the 3DS has been the highest selling hardware.

        • Hans Ek

          3DS is a failure. I bought a 3DS last November, only to sell it back after 3 weeks because lack of games. Bought a used PS3 from ebay after that and I’m more than happy now.

          • mustbepbs

            So it’s a failure because you didn’t like it?

      • Tony Queen

        The 3ds is far from a failure.

  • Rob Triggs

    Interesting stuff. I’m leaning towards Linux (Android?) as a serious gaming platform in the future, but I don’t think that it’s going to be led by console manufacturers.

    The WiiU’s failure is certainly down to a lack of understanding re: “casual gamers”, they love convenience and mobile is as convenient as it gets. The marketing was way off too.

    Mind you, it can’t be long until mobile/handheld gaming merge. Tegra K1 baby!

    • Luka Mlinar

      I think dropping the API + steam machine = the future. Than again so was RISC back in the 90’s and look what happened.

  • Mike Bastable

    Nintendo to release their crown jewels to Android, hardly. The game franchises themselves sell consoles..Wii U might be a disaster but Nintendo is nowhere naar giving up. It is within the realms of thought that an iOS game might emerge but Mario free to download on apkmania is NOT gonna happen. This year will decide Nintendo’s fate…they might be sold, a stripped down cheap U..or next console…who knows?
    But Nintendo giving up Mario to the Android masses will not happen since it makes absolutely no business sense.

    • Tim

      It did already happen with the GBA and DS? And since the wii has so bad hardware, emulating it on a phone is now just a matter of time.

      • Mike Bastable

        I think you mean “emulation” of software on other platforms.. Something Nintendo can do nothing about.. Piracy basically. Nintendo does not support non Nintendo platforms.
        Just do not see this happening guys. Sorry. Nintendo is still a very successful company which is having a blip with the U.

        • Tim

          But lowend get emulated easier on phones, since more devices will be Able to run it. So for that reason you won’t see an emulated ps3 or Xbox360. I don’t say they will offer games on Android, but it would be better to gain money than nothing. Because I’m never gonna buy a heldhand anymore because my phone can do it too, with a better display, bigger display, customable buttons and controllers. It can be connected to my tv, I can install all games and have it always on it. I only need one device, Etc. Why should I PAY for losing these things?

    • Christian Koch

      I agree.
      The only option I see for Nintendo is to sell a Nintendo-Android Tablet, that can run both Nintendo and Android games, being exclusive is somehow crucial for Nintendo.

      And by the way, a Nintendo 3DS 2 with Android would be awesome :P

      • Mike Bastable

        Open source and Nintendo is never gonna happen

  • Wezi427

    They need to leave the hardware business and focus on software. They need to do what SEGA did. Nintendo can’t compete with Sony and Microsoft financially.

  • Jayfeather787

    I would love to see mariokart 7 on Android.

  • Jay Monstrous

    I would buy Mario for my smart phone!

  • Esche

    I believe the best thing for Nintendo is to include Android support in their handheld/console. They don’t have to port their games to Android though

  • Mayoo

    This year is Nintendo’s year. All the great franchise will have their game. Speaking of Donkey Kong, Smash, Mario is already there, etc.

    But, I continue to say that the Wii U is what the Wii should have been in the first place. Nintendo realease it one year early and it lacks basic functionality such as achievements/trophy that all other consoles had … in the previous generation. I personally doesn’t care about those, but it is unacceptable when you are in the gaming business.

  • mustbepbs

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  • Alex James Simon

    This needs to happen!!! :D

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    Nintendo seems to be happy targeting kids under 11. Seems to me like the sooner those kids get cellphone privileges, the sooner Nintendo will invest on phone capabilities to them kids. I don’t think that’ll be long.
    Will Nintendo make their own mobile or simply develop for established OSs?
    I honestly would like them to go the Amazon route on this. But who knows?

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  • Kassim

    It’s inevitable.

    It just depends on how quickly and to what degree this happens at…

  • Marcus Winchester

    As great as Android is, I don’t think Nintendo needs to reduce themselves to porting there great franchises to Android, purely because no one in mobile gaming will pay much for a game, given the average selling price is in the single digit dollars. I have said this for a long time and now is the best time, Nintendo need to make their own phone with their own OS. I had an idea recently that would allow them to fold in the capabilities of a phone and a gaming device like the DS. Make it a 5-5.2 inch device, with dual displays. One display would appear normally as a phone but the other one would be on a hinge that can turn 270 degrees so that it can be moved flat against the back of the phone, this could be a super flat display otherwise its not practical. The threat of the screen being damaged could be remedied by having dual hinges inside the display frame akin to the Dell XPS 12. That way you have a device that can either act as a phone or as a game device backward compatible with all DS/3DS titles. Then for control input, the 3DS control frame could be bundled in as a m-USB control that is attachable to one micro-USB on the bottom and a second dummy one at the top so that it attaches properly. The screens could be dual 720p capacitive touch displays, be powered by a Tegra K1 or Snapdragon 805, come with 3GB RAM, 4000 milliamp battery, 4G LTE. The device could be thicker than a conventional smartphone, I’m thinking about 1.5cm thick given it would be a gaming device and a phone. I think Nintendo stands to learn from the Windows OEM’s in the 2 in 1 field but instead of a keyboard, follow the 3DS mantra of having dual displays. Oh and the stylus could remain. Its just a thought but you know, wouldn’t this be cool.

  • Tony Queen

    Why play nintendo on smart phones when they have the 3ds

  • OniLink97

    Nintendo have just come out and said that they are not looking at smartphones to bring games to them and good riddance

  • OniLink97

    Nintendo have just come out and said that they are not looking at smartphones to bring games to them and good riddance

  • David

    Nintendo can easily afford a miss with WiiU – they simply don’t have the baggage and financial stresses Sega had back in the day; Nintendo are solvent, they’ve cash – plenty of it – in the bank.

    I’m sure Nintendo would like to be taking in more profit, but let’s not write then off for another generation or two.

  • Jonathan Sosa

    off topic: any ps4 gamers here?

  • Salem Al-Mutawa

    God I hope this NEVER happens. I’d rather have Mario DIE than being on other platforms.

  • forth temple

    They should have made it Android compatible. Theres about 800,000 apps on Google Play. People are used to having a huge selection of apps to choose from vs just a few for Wii U. Also Google provide Android OS for free to hardware manufacturers so there would be no cost for using the Android OS. Google have made the OS non chipset dependant so could run on Nintendos own chips.