Video game giant Nintendo has announced that it is partnering with Japanese mobile firm DeNA to produce a series of mobile applications featuring key Nintendo properties. Furthermore, Nintendo has gone on record to state that it has a new home console in the works and that mobile connectivity will play a key role in its future.
As much as it pains us to say it, Nintendo hasn’t been in the best shape for a while now. Despite the phenomenal success of the Wii, its successor, the Wii U, has failed to make much of an impact globally, and with Japanese gamers increasingly preferring to pick up their smartphones over their controllers, Nintendo – a company that is notoriously protective of its IPs and lacks a mobile platform of its own – has had to watch from the sidelines as its profits take a hit.
But earlier today, all that changed.
During a press conference, Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata announced that his company had signed a deal with Japanese mobile firm DeNA (pronounced DNA) to produce smartphone games featuring Nintendo’s characters.
That’s right: Mario and pals are finally going mobile.
But does this mean that we’re about to see Nintendo’s entire back-catalogue being ported to iOS and Android? Not quite. Here’s a snippet from DeNA’s own press release (our emboldening):
“Leveraging the strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property (IP) and game development skills in combination with DeNA’s world-class expertise in mobile games, both companies will develop and operate new game apps based on Nintendo’s IP, including its iconic game characters, for smart devices. The alliance is intended to complement Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide. Under the alliance, DeNA will also be able to strengthen its gaming business at a global scale by leveraging Nintendo’s IP.”
So we’re not going to be playing Super Mario Bros. 3 on our smartphones any time soon, but does this partnership mean that Nintendo is going to be shifting its focus away from consoles and onto mobile platforms? Thankfully not. Rather, these new mobile games will form part of a brand new membership service being jointly operated by Nintendo and DeNA, which will deliver Nintendo content not just to existing Nintendo consoles and mobile platforms, but also to PCs and, get this, a brand new Nintendo console currently in the works and codenamed “NX”.
Little is known about the new console other than that it will be “a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept” and that it will operate as a part of the upcoming collaborative service, but it’s a relief to hear that Nintendo isn’t about to ditch its box-under-the-TV approach to gaming quite yet.
▼ A short video from Eurogamer in which Nintendo speaks briefly about the new service, its many facets represented by icons shown on the screen to the left.
How this partnership will affect Nintendo’s standing in Europe and North America is unclear, but Nintendo’s decision to buddy up with DeNA on its home turf is an incredibly shrewd one. While console sales may be flagging in Japan, the mobile gaming scene is positively booming right now. By adding a dash of Nintendo magic to DeNA’s phenomenal success in the mobile market, in this writer’s humble opinion the two companies have just signed a license to print money.
Nintendo has promised more details about the project, and its upcoming console, “sometime next year”. Colour us excited.