It's-a-Me! Smartphones Finally Getting Official Nintendo Mobile Games

Nintendo has been taking a pretty hard line about not porting over any of its games over to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, unwilling to license any of its treasured characters to other developers to do the same. But now that the Japanese game-maker has faced three straight years of operating losses, it is finally changing its tune. Playing a whole new ocarina, Nintendo has announced that it will indeed be bringing its games to a smartphone near you.

To do this, Nintendo is partnering with Japanese game provider DeNA and the idea is not to port existing titles, but to create brand new games that are optimized for the touchscreen environment of the modern mobile device. This is good news, because as much as I enjoy playing Sonic or Soulcalibur on my Android, touchscreen controls for a game that was first optimized for a conventional controller still leave a lot to be desired. And simply taking a prized character and shoehorning him into yet another Temple Run clone isn’t all that fun either.

“This is about the most drastic, bold shift in strategy Nintendo could have undertaken,” said game consultant Serkan Toto.

We had heard some inklings last January that Nintendo was softening its position on mobile games, but nothing materialized from that news until now. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo approaches this, as it’ll be going from a business model where 3DS games typically retail for $35 or more to one where mobile games are cheap to free. Will there be intense DLC and in-app purchases?

Frankly, if Nintendo doesn’t want to be the BlackBerry of the gaming world, this is the move it needs to make. How many iPhone users will be thrilled to get a mobile-optimized version of Mario Party or Mario Kart? Touchscreens might not be the best for Smash Bros, but how about a new Zelda-based RPG? And microtransactions would be a cinch for Pokemon.

What we are hearing is that Nintendo will be forming a new digital storefront that will also be accessible on its consoles. If it is indeed separate from iTunes and Google Play, that could be a challenge. The good news is that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata says there are “no limitations” to what titles could come out of the company’s partnership with DeNA.

Oh, and they’re not giving up on traditional consoles either. The next one, codenamed NX, is already in the works.


Source: WSJ via iPhone in Canada

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