Gaming console giant Nintendo is leaning on DeNA, a company that develops and operates a range of mobile and online services, to develop and operate new game apps for smart devices, marking an end to Nintendo’s long-standing aversion to mobile gaming.
“We aim to construct a bridge between smart devices and dedicated video game hardware that connects consumers to our dedicated video game systems,” explained Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s director and president.
Only new original games optimised for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting ‘classic’ games created for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system, Nintendo said in a statement.
“Leveraging the strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property (IP) and game development skills in combination with DeNA’s expertise in mobile games”, both companies will develop and operate new game apps based on Nintendo’s IP, including its iconic game characters, the firm added.
“In order to create completely new game experiences for smart devices, all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance,” the statement added.
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.
Investors have long called on Nintendo to shift its focus to mobile devices after losing customers to both smartphone gaming app makers and console rivals like PlayStation maker Sony and Xbox maker Microsoft. In January it halved its operating earnings target for the fiscal year through March to JPY20 billion ($169 million), citing weak 3DS sales in the year-end holiday season.
In his presentation, Iwata said that finally venturing into smartphones and tablets was the logical step forward: “Now that smart devices have grown to become the window for so many people to personally connect with society, it would be a waste not to use these devices,” he said.
He also said he realises the apps market is a competitive one and “if Nintendo cannot make it to that handful of winners, it does not make sense for us to be engaged in the software business on smart devices.”
Nintendo and DeNA also plan to develop an online membership service that is accessible from smart devices, PCs and Nintendo systems.
The partnership will see Nintendo and DeNA buy JPY22 billion ($182 million) worth of shares in each other. As a result, Nintendo will acquire a 10 per cent stake in DeNA while DeNA will acquire a 1.2 per cent stake in Nintendo.