Nintendo Abandons Its Console-Only Strategy, Enters Mobile

Nintendo will unveil its first-ever game for smartphones, a radical departure from its long-term exclusive focus on its console. In the years of avoiding the move to smartphones, the Kyoto, Japan-based company missed the spectacular rise of mobile gaming, which this year, says research firm Newzoo, is on track to outpace console games in global sales for the first time. But Nintendo is finally opening up, not just with mobile games but also theme parks and a new console game. The first mobile game could debut in a few days.

According to The Wall Street Journal, before the company’s longtime president Satoru Iwata died in July, he announced a partnership with Tokyo-based mobile game developer/platform operator DeNA.

Also this month, Nintendo invested (along with others) as much as $30 million in San Francisco-based Niantic, a Google spinoff that works in augmented reality. Niantic, which previously said it was working with Nintendo and Pokémon on a mobile game, uses Google Maps to “place markers around historical sites and other public landmarks for players to capture.”

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Jeffries & Co. analyst Atul Goyal noted that mobile games are “now going to be the core of the new Nintendo,” a point of view held by enough shareholders to raise Nintendo’s share price by almost 70 percent.

But Nintendo has a lot of ground to make up. Mobile games already outpaced console games in Japan last year; Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association states the gap is 562 billion yen ($4.63 billion) to ¥373 billion. Even in console games, Sony and Microsoft are bigger players than Nintendo, whose Wii U console, introduced in 2012 has only sold 10 million units, less than half the total for Sony PlayStation 4.

Nintendo is, however, also working on a next-generation console platform, code-named NX, that is, “likely to include a console and at least one mobile unit that could be used outside the home.”