nintendo

When Nintendo and DeNA announced they would enter into a partnership for mobile game publishing, the news was big. Arguably even larger was the intense scrutiny that went into the very nature of the deal, something that was – apparently – wide-spread enough that Nintendo’s CEO felt the need to clarify things. The story the two sought to tell would basically amount to Nintendo creating the games and DeNA handling the distribution. Logically it makes sense, as Nintendo has no experience with mobile game development and given the sheer amount of complications associated with it (fragementation alone is a major one) means that expertise is needed to succeed.

Nintendo revealed it would release five new mobile titles by 2017, with the first one coming later this year. But what can we expect from these games?

At a recent gaming event, DeNA West’s CEO, Shintaro Asako, made a very bold statement: “I think this is potentially an opportunity for us to completely change the market.” He cites the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game as an example of just how successful a working partnership can be, presumably referring to reports that the app pulls in over $200 million in revenue.

In some ways, his cheerful optimism echos that which Sony Mobile’s CEO offered just days ago (albeit for a different topic) though just as with Sony’s case, things aren’t so cut-and-dry. Nintendo is supplying the IP which means it will presumably have control over what products are developed. Nintendo has clear, long-reaching vested interests in its own hardware portfolio, and as such there has been a large amount of discussion and speculation as to just what kind of games it will be creating for the mobile ecosystem.

I think this is potentially an opportunity for us to completely change the market.

While many had initially taken for granted any decision made by Nintendo would entail endless adventures with Mario, Zelda, Link, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and a host of other cherished franchises coming along for the ride, it’s no longer assured that will be getting the full blown mobile games we were dreaming about.

In somewhat of a paradox, the more promising the Nintendo mobile apps are, the more damaging they will be for the sales of current – or future – dedicated portable hardware like the 3DS or its eventual successor. If gamers can get “full-blown” experiences on their existing mobile devices, how many would then go out and buy Nintendo’s hardware, especially with many established players migrating towards mobile as is.

The idea of “completely changing the market” seems rather ironic given that the very emergence of mobile apps has done just that: why else would Nintendo even be doing this?

While there is absolutely nothing to suggest Nintendo will create sub-par experiences for the mobile marketplace, given the more niche, IAP-centered nature of its own, existing 3DS freemium software, it could just as well follow suit down that avenue. Then again, perhaps Nintendo has finally realized that its old ways are no longer sustainable, and actually planning to put its best foot forward when it comes to mobile titles. On a final note, the idea of “completely changing the market” seems rather ironic given that the very emergence of mobile apps has done just that: why else would Nintendo even be doing this?