So, Nintendo has had a busy week.
After initial reports about the possibility of the beleaguered video game titan diversifying their software properties into the mobile market, and the subsequent refutation of that report, it seems that Nintendo will be testing the waters of the smart phone market after all.
Sort of...after the report that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, alongside other high level executives, would be taking a pay cut thanks to the stagnant performance of the Wii U, Nintendo has announced today that they will be making a two pronged assault to remedy the company's grim fiscal postings for 2013.
Prong one of Nintendo's new strategy includes, yes, allowing some of their venerated and well guarded IPs to make an appearance on smart phones as apps. These apps are by no means meant to be regarded as games. They are meant to be supplemental advertising agents, an advertising tool put in place to drive consumers back to Nintendo hardware itself.
Iwata went on to reiterate that it was Nintendo's "intention to release some application on smart devices this year".
While games featuring Nintendo's characters for mobile devices were never explicitly ruled out, Iwata went on to say that,
"I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters. However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement."
Misleading as it may be, this still seems like a test run for the company. Start with apps, see how they perform, check if fans are being driven back to the Wii U, and adjust accordingly. Nintendo has always adhered to a strict philosophy of ivory tower isolationism when it comes to their IPs, and they still hold fast to the belief that only their hardware is capable off truly showing off their software. If, for some reason, the app/advertising stratagem doesn't work, they've already got a blueprint for moving forward with mobile integration.
Prong 2 has to do with with a third platform for Nintendo's software, but it's not the codenamed Fusion project. It will be a supplemental lifestyle app device of some kind.
Iwata went on to outline plans to integrate a third platform into the current roster of hardware. Sitting next to both the Wii U and the 3DS it will focus on helping to bolster your 'quality of life'.
“What Nintendo will try to achieve in the next 10 years is a platform business that improves people’s [quality of life] in enjoyable ways."
Nintendo has always embraced the self help set. Brain Age for the DS and Wii Fit for the Wii were huge draws for their respective consoles and Nintendo once again hopes to capitalize on users desire to look to the company for shedding extra pounds or increasing neural elasticity.
(Image via Nintendo)
Iwata went on to state that this as yet revealed third platform would appeal to non-gamers in much the same way the Wii was embraced by large swaths of the non-traditional gaming population. Education, language, music, and other lifestyle apps would be what fuels this new addition to the Nintendo hardware stable.
For dedicated gamers devoted to Nintendo, the company is planning to go all in on both the 3DS and the Wii U. The Wii U is expected to only sell 2.5 million units in 2014, but 2014 is also the year of a new Smash Bros., a new Mario Kart, and a new Zelda title (kind of). Iwata further expounded on the Wii U's expensive Game Pad as being a hurdle for widespread acceptance of the console.
“Our top priority task this year is to offer software titles that are made possible because of the GamePad.”
Nintendo will continue to roll out nostalgia heavy titles on their virtual eShop, but the company's reveal of not only a new platform, but the exploration of a new market leaves the hardware/software giant in a precarious and uncertain present. Nintendo has nothing if not the goodwill and nostalgia market on lock.
It will be interesting to see how much longer the company can capitalize on those resources before continued sales force the company to either fully embrace mobile gaming or release a new console before the Wii U has really had the chance to establish its own identity within this generation of home consoles.
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