Why Nintendo Is Finally Making Mobile Games

It was recently announced that Nintendo would soon begin developing and publishing mobile games after a long period of resistance to entering that other portable market. Now, thanks to a handy Q&A presentation provided by the company, we know what, exactly, has been the holdup.

Nintendo today offered up a press release including a Q&A with Nintendo Director and President Satoru Iwata. Early on in the conversation, Iowata was asked why, after all these years, Nintendo has finally decided to get into the mobile market. The questions specifically addresses Nintendo’s decision not to release mobile games “because of certain issues,” which the publisher has now apparently found solutions to.

According to Iowata, part of the holdup has been establishing a philosophy that the same games will not be released for the two portable markets, including mobile and dedicated gaming devices.

In other words, rather than risk cannibalizing their own 3DS market, Nintendo wanted to be sure they offered unique experiences on each front. After all, if you simply offer up 3DS games on the mobile platform, you might cut down on the number of people looking to buy Nintendo’s best-selling piece of hardware. Similarly, gamers can be a jealous bunch, and you don’t want to make someone who invested in said 3DS to feel like they wasted their money when they could have simply waited for a mobile version of, say, Bravely Second to pop up.

Iowata goes on to say that when a game is simply ported from a dedicated gaming device to a mobile device, the results weren’t typically favorable.

“The number of consumers who have access to the same game certainly does increase,” Iowata continued. “On the other hand, if the ported game does not reproduce the same satisfactory experiences that the original game provided, information that the game is not satisfactory would just end up spreading and, therefore devalue the content.”

Differing price points between mobile and 3DS were also highlighted as sticking points. People have no problem forking over 40 bucks for the latest Pokemon or Mario game on the 3DS but, even if you offer the exact same game on mobile devices, that’s not a platform where people are used to paying more than a few bucks for a game.

“It was important for Nintendo to analyze and clearly recognize that smart devices and dedicated video game systems are two completely different things even though, at a glance, they may appear to be very close from the viewpoint that you can play games on both of them,” Iowata added.”

It’s also important to note the shift in game development and play on a global scale. Few studios outside of Japan are making games for the 3DS or Vita these days. Similarly, gaming in Japan (Nintendo’s home country) is increasingly shifting to the mobile market. It’s not a bad idea to keep serving up quality 3DS games while still taking those first steps into the mobile market. If the future is unclear, it’s not a bad idea to play for both teams.

According to Iowata, the proof of these decisions (and the length of time it took the publisher to make them) will be in the pudding.

“We aim to develop and release our smart device applications with Nintendo IP which, after their releases, will help you to say, ‘Now I understand what Nintendo meant,’ or ‘This is indeed a win-win situation for both smart device applications and dedicated game systems,’” he added.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if Nintendo is able to deliver on the games. I, for one, would be thrilled to play mobile-focused games boasting my favorite Nintendo characters, but only if it doesn’t come at the cost of my 3DS, too. It sounds like that’s the direction Nintendo wants to head.

Ryan Winslett

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.