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Nintendo CEO Iwata Explains Company's Jump to Mobile

Why did Nintendo finally decide to enter the mobile gaming market?

On March 17, Nintendo announced they are partnering with DeNA to make Nintendo games for smartphones and tablets. Nintendo has been quite hesitant to -- or rather, against -- taking this leap with their intellectual properties, despite their critics calling for it.

So why did Nintendo, after Iwata stating on many occasion that the company would never, decide to take their IPs onto non-Nintendo-manufactured hardware? Here's what Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told TIME:

“In the digital world, content has the tendency to lose value, and especially on smart devices, we recognize that it is challenging to maintain the value of our content. It is because of this recognition that we have maintained our careful stance. However, we have been seriously and continuously considering how we should make use of smart devices. We made the announcement yesterday because we finally found solutions to the problems we identified. More specifically, we will not merely port games developed for our dedicated game systems to smart devices just as they are—we will develop brand new software which perfectly matches the play style and control mechanisms of smart devices.”

When asked if it would be Nintendo of DeNA developing these new titles:

"Development of smart device games will be mainly done by Nintendo, but it is significant that we are forming a joint development structure with DeNA. Nintendo, through experience in the dedicated game system business, is good at making traditional game products. But for smart devices, in addition to the 'product' aspect of a game, the aspect of an ever-evolving “service” is very important—a service that encourages consumers to play every day even for a short time."

Nintendo Iwata DeNA

Then, when asked if these new titles will be free-to-play titles with in-app purchases or pay-up-front:

"I understand that, unlike the package model for dedicated game systems, the free-to-start type of business model is more widely adopted for games on smart devices, and the free-to-start model will naturally be an option for us to consider. On the other hand, even in the world of smart device apps, the business model continues to change...

"On the other hand, Nintendo does not intend to choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo’s brand image or our IP, which parents feel comfortable letting their children play with. Also, it’s even more important for us to consider how we can get as many people around the world as possible to play Nintendo smart device apps, rather than to consider which payment system will earn the most money."

Iwata is carefully balancing on a wire when answering these questions, but still says a lot. Development will still remain in-house, something that had many -- including myself -- worried. There will not be any terrible ports of popular titles but all-new original content developed directly for mobile touch devices. We don't know when we will see the first game to come out of this new partnership, but we can be sure to see more from Nintendo in the years to come.

Read the entire interview with Nintendo's Satoru Iwata over on TIME.

Published Mar. 18th 2015
  • Stan Rezaee
    Featured Contributor
    All they need to do is release Super Mario Bros. on the iPhone and boom they have the best selling game since Tetris for the mobile phone.
  • Nick Boisson
    Featured Contributor
    As a Nintendo fan, I actually hope they don't just do that. I want to see them create something from the ground up specifically for mobile touch devices. Ports to mobile rarely work out and I even Nintendo realizes this point.

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