A few years ago, the notion that the legendary video game company, Nintendo, would enter the mobile game market, would have been viewed as ridiculous, impossible, and bring cries of social media hate from Nintendo purists. After all, Nintendo has been the over twenty-five year champion of handheld gaming. Sure, other companies have tried to invade their territory, most notably Sony and Sega, but neither has been able to even come close to cracking the glass ceiling that Nintendo has created throughout the immense success of various Game Boy iterations, Nintendo DS, and currently, the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS has outsold both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 this year, the powerful home consoles from Microsoft and Sony, so it would appear that Nintendo needs no help putting their portable products in consumers' hands. So all is well, right?
Not exactly. Although Nintendo is experiencing such a high sales in the handheld market, their home console, the Wii U, has continued to show fledgling success. With very few known releases for the rest of 2015 and the indefinite delay of the next Zelda, there is not much of reason to go out and buy a Wii U. They announced the NX, a mysterious project that seems to have the goal of putting a bridge between the divide that exists between console and handheld gaming, which sounds interesting and unique, something that Nintendo has continued to do since the revolutionary release of the Wii. What about gamers who have given up on Nintendo's hardware and have since moved on, though?
Cue the partnership with Japanese mobile game giant, DeNA (pronounced "DNA"). Later this year, alongside with DeNA, Nintendo will release its first mobile title for hardware not developed by the gaming giant. Although details are murky, and the exact nature of forthcoming games is unknown, one would expect the games to be released on iOS and Android platforms (Windows seems unlikely but who knows). Nintendo has released statements with minimal information, but they have remarked that they will not just simply release console games on mobile devices (ports of Nintendo classics on IPhone would be nice though). All signs point to games dedicated to mobile devices. It is expected that Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Metroid will probably make appearances in some ways, but it would be unlikely for the company to develop traditional variations of these franchises on mobile devices considering that they still have their own hardware for that.
Instead, puzzle games featuring Nintendo characters, (Candy Crush Saga meets Mario) and shortened versions of traditional platformers and adventure games would seem to be the direction that Nintendo will take. Will the games be free to play? This is interesting because free to play games frequently get bashed on due to micro-transactions, but Nintendo will almost definitely implement this idea in at least some of their mobile releases. If any company knows how to capture and hold a gamer's attention, it is Nintendo. Micro-transactions from Nintendo will likely be welcome by a lot of consumers because while the company may not release a lot of in house developed games per year, each title released is almost always nothing less than superb. Priced games that are fully unlocked will likely be released as well after mobile device gamers catch, or reacquire the Nintendo bug.
DeNa announced that they expect to generate twenty-five million dollars worth from Nintendo released mobile games per month, at the very least. That may sound outrageous, but it is a statement that should not be disregarded. Nintendo could take over the mobile game market with quality releases that gamers anxiously await. Nintendo's native hardware, consoles and handhelds are unlikely to be significantly affected by mobile game releases. If anything, this is a strategic move to generate more sales for their native systems. They are letting every one with a smart device essentially "demo" what they have to offer. Not to say that these mobile games will not be worth the time or money, but that they will be an introduction to what Nintendo still has to offer consumers. If people enjoy what they are playing on their phone, but want more, they are likely to turn to dedicated Nintendo systems. In turn, revitalizing their dedicated following will open more doors for dedicated software development for a larger audience.
Nintendo continues to find new ways to remain relevant longer than any other gaming company has been able to, and they are striving to find new ways to introduce consumers to their products. It remains difficult to pinpoint what their next move will be, but they are garnering attention. The gaming industry is waiting and watching Nintendo as they move forward, constantly transforming, looking for new ways to provide enjoyable and revolutionary experiences.
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