Nintendo has affirmed that its recent belly-up sales forecast doesn’t mean Mario is coming to smartphones. Instead, it looks like the company’s original plan - to use mobile devices as a channel to direct gamers towards its own platform - is a more likely option.
The news reached us from The Wall Street Journal, which follows up on a report we relayed to you over the weekend. Back then, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that a “new business structure” was in order due to a forecasted loss of 25 billion yen ($240 million), along with anticipated poor sales of its new Wii U console. In case you missed our article, here’s what Iwata said:
We are thinking about a new business structure. Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business.
Given that more cash has long been spent in the App Store than on gaming-optimized handhelds, the sensible assumption was that the company appeared to be considering iOS ports of select Nintendo titles - even if this would come at the expense of hardware sales.
Now, however, Iwata has confirmed that this actually isn’t the case. Instead, The Wall Street Journal notes that while Nintendo is indeed looking to smartphones, it’s rather hoping to use devices such as the iPhone and iPad as a means of directing potential gamers back towards its own platform, as we heard back in December.
The publication explains:
Nintendo still has one star performer — its 3DS handheld, which management points to as what is right about its strategy. While the company cut its sales forecast for the handheld by 25% to 13.5 million units this fiscal year ending March, in absolute terms, the revised numbers are far from weak. The 3DS was the top-selling console in 2013 worldwide, outselling both Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One in unit terms in December in the U.S., according to the NPD group.
For Nintendo, the potential benefits of switching over to a mobile app-focused business model aren't worth the risk of harming the company’s strategy of combining its hardware in unique ways,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The Japanese company still believes that “good games sell hardware,” even if a large proportion of its target market might already own a mobile device capable of powering the “good games” in question.
Of course, it makes sense for Nintendo to avoid the App Store - offering its exclusive titles on mobile platforms would clearly harm hardware sales, perhaps to a point of no return. After all, would you pick up a Nintendo 3DS if The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was available in the App Store? Me neither.
But at the same time, mobile devices are becoming more of a threat to Nintendo as each year passes, and as we noted in our previous article, Mario or Pokémon for iOS would sell like hotcakes, for sure. The release of iOS game controllers, which offer iDevice users more intense, console-like gaming experiences, is yet another move in this direction.
How do you think Nintendo should proceed?
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