It looks as though Nintendo has finally caved in to the pressure of creating apps for Android and iOS, as the company has teamed up with mobile app developer DeNA to bring its intellectual property (IP) to mobile devices. Does that mean we'll finally see Mario on tablets and smartphones? That's probably a yes, as all iconic Nintendo characters are eligible for development and "exploration."
But don't expect your Nintendo favorites to be ported, as the announcement clearly stated that these apps will be new game experiences developed specifically for mobile devices. The apps are also meant to complement games on Nintendo's current consoles (Wii U, 3DS) and extend Nintendo's reach into the mobile sector.
The news is surprising given Nintendo's previous stance against bringing its characters to mobile devices. However, stockholders have been pushing Nintendo to enter the mobile market for years and made their desire for mobile apps clear when Nintendo originally introduced the Wii U. The company insisted that premium content belongs on premium hardware such as the Wii U console.
To make this deal happen, the two companies have come to a financial agreement that will see Nintendo acquiring 15,081,000 of DeNA's treasury shares, worth around 22 billion yen. DeNA will acquire 1,759,400 of Nintendo's treasury shares, which are worth around 22 billion yen.
In addition to bringing new Nintendo experiences to mobile phones, both companies plan to launch an online membership service that will be made available on the PC, Nintendo consoles and smart devices. The two companies didn't provide any additional details, but merely stated that the new service will be made available in the fall of 2015. DeNA will build this portal using its "extensive experience and capabilities in online membership services."
Here in North America, sales of the Wii U trail behind the competition, including the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. More specifically, in the week of February 28, some 70,795 units of the PlayStation 4 were sold, followed by the Xbox One with 47,681 units sold. Nintendo sold 22,121 units of the Wii U and 70,386 units of the 3DS in the same week, revealing that Nintendo gamers may prefer playing their first-party games on the go rather than sitting in front of a TV.
Both Microsoft and Sony have entered the mobile market with full-blown games and tools. However, the mobile business isn't always lucrative, as Sony has shown with the closing of PlayStation Mobile for Android. This platform didn't bring classic titles to Google's popular OS, but rather became a portal for indie games. Shutting down on July 15, PlayStation Mobile was only open for a few years.
Will Nintendo be successful in the mobile market? That remains to be seen, as we have no idea what Nintendo and DeNA plan to offer content-wise. We assume the companies will develop games, but it's quite possible there will be a few tools thrown into the mix, as well. The duo plans to make an additional announcement regarding platforms and titles later on this year, possibly at E3 2015 this June.