Nintendo head critical of mobile games industry - Mobile World Live

Nintendo head critical of mobile games industry

04 MAR 2011

Satoru Iwata (pictured), president of Nintendo, used his appearance at the Game Developers Conference 2011 to highlight the issues raised by the growth of mobile apps. His arguments centred on the fact that, in the mobile business, there is currently a focus on the number of products available rather than the quality of software, which means there is little impetus to maintain the quality of the products available. In addition, the practice of independent developers to make games available at low-cost or free-of-charge is detrimental to bigger players, who spend a large amount developing titles, of which only a few will be a success.

According to Develop, Iwata argues: “These platforms have no motivation to maintain the value of gaming. Quantity is how they profit. The value of software does not matter to them.” Coupled with the falling cost of paid-for downloads, and the increased penetration of “freemium” products, this has made it more difficult to make a viable business out of mobile gaming. The report also said that the presentation inidicated that Nintendo is not planning to move into the low-cost games space: “what we make is valuable, and we should protect that value.”

Develop also noted that Iwata had acknowledged that Nintendo’s downloadable games businesses, WiiWare and DSiWare, have “not operated as well as they should have.” Unlike the mobile games model, where products are generally bought from online stores, Nintendo’s success has been driven by packaged games sold by retailers.

It was swiftly noted that Iwata’s comments were actually motivated by the threat mobile devices and mobile gaming pose for Nintendo’s DS businesses line, especially as the hardware capabilities of smartphones rapidly enable more compelling games, and more open ecosystems promote innovation among the developer community. Rival Sony recently announced its PlayStation Certified programme in order to improve its position in the mobile games market, with Sony Ericsson set to release a gaming-oriented device imminently.

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