The maker of Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, which has long resisted any suggestions that it put its games on smartphones and tablets, said today that it would team with DeNA, one of Japan’s leading mobile game companies, to create games using its popular franchises for mobile devices. The two companies will enter into a capital alliance that will see Nintendo acquire 10 percent of DeNA’s outstanding stock for about 22 billion yen and DeNA acquire 1.24 percent of Nintendo’s stock for approximately the same amount.
“Nintendo has decided to utilize smart devices aggressively,” said Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata in a joint presentation with DeNA earlier today. “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.”
“We are challenging ourselves to redefine what ‘Nintendo platforms’ mean,” Iwata said.
Iwata did not specify which games or franchises might be headed to smart devices. A Super Mario endless runner? Zelda Crush Saga? Nintendo’s chief didn’t say, but he did rule out a specific category of games: Nintendo will not, as so many publishers have, simply port its existing classic game software to phones.
“There are significant differences in the controls, strengths and weaknesses between the controllers for dedicated game systems and the touchscreens of smart devices,” he said. “We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP.”
Although Iwata, in the presentation, pointed out the current weakness of Nintendo’s sales of dedicated game devices like Wii U and 3DS, he said the company remains committed to producing game hardware. To that end, he announced that Nintendo has a “dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename ‘NX’” that it will discuss next year.
Nintendo and DeNA will also partner to create a customer membership program that will span all devices, to replace the company’s Club Nintendo customer loyalty program that it wound down earlier this year.
“I believe teaming up with Nintendo is the best possible strategy to achieve growth in DeNA’s core business of mobile gaming,” said DeNA president and CEO Isao Moriyasu. “I grew up playing Nintendo games, and I’m already excited that I will soon be able to play Nintendo IP games on smart devices.”