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It might be time to delete any treasured family photos from your iOS and Android devices. You'll need the hard-drive space when Nintendo unveils its collection of Smartphone and tablet games later this year.
Speaking during a press conference this morning, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata acknowledged a drastic change the company's mobile strategy. For the first time in Nintendo's existence, it will release games on iOS and Android devices.
Here's Iwata's announcement (via Kotaku):
Nintendo has decided to deploy its video game business on smart devices, but it is not because we have lost our passion or vision for the business of dedicated video game systems
Iwata's speech was light on details, but there's a good chance that Nintendo is planning to follow in Sega's footsteps. Over the last few years, Sega has made a mint by releasing its catalog of retro titles on iOS and Android devices. And Nintendo probably isn't interested in creating any iOS-only Mario games, so there's a good chance that the mobile market will only see retro titles.
Though, I would really love to play a brand new Pokémon RPG on my iPhone. Are you listening, Nintendo?
Forgive me for being skeptical, but this maneuver sounds like an attempt to placate investors. Until today, Nintendo has always avoided mobile phones and tablets. The 3DS is one of the most popular consoles in video game history, and that's always been Nintendo's preferred mobile platform.
As recently as last year, Nintendo denied any interest in the Smartphone market. Here's a quote:
[…] Mr. Iwata has also stated that Nintendo's intention is not to make Nintendo software available on smart devices and as such, we can confirm that there are no plans to offer mini-games on Smartphone devices.
However, Nintendo's investors, with their torches and pitchforks, have been clamoring for a Smartphone strategy. Last year, in fact, several shareholders were "flabbergasted" that Iwata hadn't resigned over the company's recent poor performance. But Nintendo's CEO held on to his job, and, until today, maintained his anti-Smartphone stance.
Following today's announcement, though, Nintendo's stock jumped by 27.5 percent. So, if the developer is trying to appease investors, it's obviously working.
The fact that Iwata's company is changing direction is a very big deal—not only for Nintendo, but the entire video game industry. Sony and Microsoft have always lived comfortably outside of the console space, but this will be the first time that Mario has found his way out of a Nintendo-branded system. And part of me is a little worried that he won't fit in.
But I'm cautiously optimistic. Nintendo hasn't been on the cutting edge of video game development since the N64 was the hottest console on the market. The GameCube, Wii, and Wii U weren't technological powerhouses, but Nintendo's first-party titles were more than enough to fuel sales.
But that's not true anymore.
The Wii U has been struggling since it hit the shelves, partially because it's underpowered and partially because it confuses gamers. But it might be time for Nintendo to ditch its old-school strategy and find a way to co-exist with the rest of the market, even though it probably makes Iwata nervous.