Nintendo Bringing Wii U, 3DS Demos To Mobile Devices?

By Pete Haas 2014-01-27 18:53:42 discussion comments
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Nintendo may finally make a foray into mobile gaming. A new report published today suggests that they'll be releasing demos of their games through Android or iOS devices.

Some gamers and critics have argued that Nintendo should go all-in with mobile development. The wider user base of smartphones and tablets would allow the company to dramatically expand their audience. However, Nintendo are concerned that this would undermine the 3DS or Wii U. Why buy a 3DS for Pokemon X and Y if you could get it on the iPhone you already own?

"The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It's not that simple," global president Satoru Iwata said last week. "It doesn't mean that we should put Mario on smartphones."

The new report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei details a possible middle ground. By putting demos and mini-games on mobile devices, Nintendo introduces their games to a huge audience without making their own gaming hardware obsolete. Gamers will still need to buy the Wii U or 3DS to play the full versions of these titles. Smartphones will be promotional tools for Nintendo rather than replacements for their devices.

Smartphone samples will work better for some games better than others. Not every title will play well with a touchscreen. Still, releasing a demo through the App Store or Google Play exposes it to tens of millions of potential customers. This idea could drive both hardware and software sales for Nintendo.

Nikkei says that Nintendo will spread information about upcoming games via mobile devices as well. Details were slim but it's easy to imagine how that would work. Gamers could download a Nintendo app and check out the latest trailers. Or they could get push notifications on a new game announcement.

If Nikkei's report is right, we should hear more about Nintendo's mobile plans on Thursday. The company will hold a briefing with investors on that day. They're expected to announce a third straight year of losses. I'm sure they'd love to have some good news to share to balance out the other gloomy facts.

While mobile demos sound like a great idea, I suspect it won't be enough for some people. Investors and critics alike will still call on Nintendo to abandon hardware and focus on software. The past couple years have given this crowd plenty of reason to be pessimistic. They'll be right when they say that demos aren't going to fix the company's woes.

It seems unlikely that Nintendo will ditch their hardware anytime soon, though. While the Wii U has underperformed, the 3DS is still selling well. The company's asking themselves, "How do we get the most out of our hardware?" rather than "How do we get out of the hardware game altogether?"
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