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Nintendo's possible plans for smartphone peripherals
At the end of last month, Nintendo held its “76th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders” and as Polygon noticed, one of the comments made had to do with the company’s plans for mobile.
Q4: …I think many people would like to play Nintendo’s action games as smart device applications. But smart devices use touch panels, which may not be suited to action games. Does Nintendo have any plans to launch a physical controller and invest in new titles of quality action games?
And the response, from Shinya Takahashi, Director, General Manager of Entertainment Planning and Development Division:
Physical controllers for smart device applications are available in the market and it is possible that we may also develop something new by ourselves. On the other hand, I believe Nintendo’s way of thinking is to look at whether action games are really not impossible (without a physical controller for smart device applications) to create and how we can make it happen to create such a game. I think we will make applications, and not just action games, in consideration of what best embodies “Nintendo-like” applications, including applications for everyone from children to seniors.
With respect to Miitomo, Nintendo’s first app, which had a smash start but has been plagued with reports of dwindling retention, Nintendo’s President, Tatsumi Kimishima, commented that “we are focused on the retention rate, which is how many users continue to play Miitomo”. Missing was any intention to develop content for the app, the lack of which many feel is directly responsible for the diminished usage. Nintendo plans to launch a total of 5 mobile apps before next April, two more of which have already been announced.
The bigger picture
The meeting also contained comments about the company’s next console, code-named “NX”, expected to launch next March. Nothing specific was given, however, about the OS it will run; some early rumors had suggested it might be Android. There was some reference to the idea that the NX may be a “challenge” for mainstream success, as the Wii U was. To date the Wii U stands as being the least successful of all “core” Nintendo consoles released, having sold just 12.80 million units as of March 31st this year. Prior to launch, at least one person in the company had expected 100 million units to be sold.
The transcript also included a rather curious exchange (Question #1) with a point being made about the total absence of women among Nintendo’s directors and executives, to which the President replied that “we choose directors who we believe can best help steer our company regardless of gender, age, or nationality” and adds that the company “has many female employees in active roles, and our overseas subsidiaries have many female staff members” and stresses that “our management team is keen to absorb the opinions of those employees to develop products and run the company in ways that reflect both the female viewpoint and a global viewpoint.”
In recent years Japan has sought to try and include more women in corporate leadership roles, though it would seem Nintendo – based in Kyoto – wants to remain tied to its traditional mindset, something that many feel also plagues the company’s policy on DRM.
Nintendo’s possible entry into the smartphone accessory market will no doubt be of interest to those who were upset by the lack of traditional Mario or Zelda mobile games. It could, potentially, mean the eventual emergence of an action platformer that manages to make use of a mainstay manipulation model (i.e. a controller). Still, based on the meeting as a whole, mobile clearly is not the main priority of the company, as it is instead focused on the NX and making that a success.