Nintendo Finally To Dip Its Toe In The Smartphone/Tablet Gaming Market

from the about-time dept

Roughly every gamer who grew up in the glorious eighties and who also owns a smart phone has been completely flabbergasted that Nintendo, that icon of our youths, had so steadfastly resisted getting involved in mobile-device gaming unless the hardware had its logo slapped on the back. Add to that the company's drumbeat against emulators on phones and tablets that would allow gamers to play the amazing back-catalog of games-gone-by while simultaneously refusing to release any of those games for those devices themselves and at times it appears that Nintendo hates money. Recently, we even covered Nintendo's odd decision to go the opposite direction and port common smartphone and tablet games to Nintendo handheld hardware. This whole refusal to get with the times has come off as downright crazy.

Well, in a spot of good news, it looks like Nintendo is finally starting to dip its toes in the smartphone and tablet market.

Nintendo announced today that the company has entered into a "business and capital alliance" with Japanese online giant DeNA. As part of this alliance, the two companies will team up (a press release specifically mentions "joint development") to release "gaming applications for smart devices". These games will use Nintendo IP.
You may be thinking, "Duh, why wouldn't they do this?", but that's the question Nintendo fans have been asking for several years now. The fact is that the gaming giant has completely ignored the very existence of these mobile gaming platforms everyone has these days. Still, developing new games using Nintendo IP for phones and tablets is a nice move, but if it really takes off and it's successful? Perhaps that's when we'll finally see the back catalog of games open up officially.

And, while the wording is a bit vague and Nintendo insists it will continue being in the hardware business, check this Nintendo statement out.
Nintendo and DeNA expect to develop a new core system compatible with a variety of devices including PCs, smartphones and tablets as well as Nintendo's dedicated video game systems, and are to jointly develop a membership service utilizing this system, with a launch targeted for the fall of 2015. The companies expect to further enhance their customer relationships through the membership service.
Nintendo games possibly on the PC? It'd be a bold move, and a massive departure from the Nintendo of the past... and it would be smart as hell. Perhaps the gaming giant of my youth is finally embracing the present, if not the future.

Filed Under: games, smartphones, tablets
Companies: nintendo


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 9:11pm

    Perhaps better suited to those tiny telephone screens would be Atari and other video games from the late 1970s. What ever happened to them? And what are fans supposed to do when a gaming company closed down many years ago, apparently taking its copyrights into the grave with it?

    At least Nintendo is still around, if the only one remaining from the 'golden era' of computer video games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 4:01am

      Re: Showing how little Techdirters know about copyright!

      After Masnick's long advocacy of piracy and disparagement of all copyright, it's not surprising that howling ignorance on basics pops up among the gamers:
      "And what are fans supposed to do when a gaming company closed down many years ago, apparently taking its copyrights into the grave with it?" -- Copyright simply recognizes the right to sue in civil court if your intellectual products are stolen or publicly distributed. If no entity exists or one does but has no money or no inclination to sue, then there's effectively no copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:07am

      Re:

      'Atari' still exists, but it's basically being worn by a completely different company. Incidentally, they just threatened the original developer of Tempest 2000 with a lawsuit for making TxK, which is basically a spiritual successor with similar gameplay.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      Really? 'Cos I've just won Dragon Quest VI for the SNES in an emulator on my Android.

      Android phone is for games
      Android phone is for games
      And Nintendo get the blame
      Games, games, games!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2015 @ 10:17pm

    Switching to mobile marked the fall of Square-Enix. It will be the end of Nintendo as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 23 Mar 2015 @ 11:49am

      Re:

      Correction: seeking as much personal info as possible when switching to mobile apps marked the end of Square-Enix. The Nintendo DS is a mobile device that I've never had a problem purchasing games for because the carts don't snag and send on such things as my device IMEI, phone number, or contacts list.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Robert (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 12:26am

    About time

    I just can't imagine how much money Nintendo lost by being so ridiculously dumb by not doing this a lot sooner. I know that I would have purchased a lot of their titles, especially since I am no longer a kid, and don't need to ask mom and dad for the money. Is Nintendo a public or private company? If they are a public company that has to answer to shareholders, I just shows that the investor or shareholders are just as dumb as the management. Why didn't these dumb investors put pressure on Nintendo. Now, that I think about it, it would serve both the investor and Nintendo justice if they completely fail and bankruptcy the company. These didn't listen to there customers or game magazine writers call to release there games on smartphones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Candescence (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 2:43am

    Well, just don't expect 'proper' Nintendo games on smartphones. Or ports. Or old games.

    Sure, it's interesting that they're doing this, but Nintendo have openly stated with this announcement that a) all their smartphone games will be content produced exclusively for smartphones and designed around smartphones, and b) they will not port games made for handhelds/consoles to smartphones. Which will likely include virtual console games.

    So don't expect anything that you'd expect Nintendo to usually make, and expect these games to actively advertise Nintendo's hardware and the 'real' games on them. Which is a fairly sensible move, in my opinion. Nintendo should certainly not be trying to port over old games that were never designed for the limited interface of smartphones. Their smartphone efforts will likely be a 'third pillar' as a supplement to handhelds and consoles.

    And no, they're not developing content for PCs, that's just their new account system (to replace Nintendo Network accounts and Club Nintendo and basically merge them), which can be accessed via PC.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 3:11am

    I need to remind readers of something: Iwata has been the head of Nintendo for many years now. This is the same guy as saying:

    "High Definition? Our consumers don't care for HD." - Result: The Wii, while a very great seller for Nintendo, now holds several "records", such as: Console with the lowest amount of published titles (of an active company), including its own N64, fastest loss of developer support in gaming history, and consumers left with a paper weight since the company itself ditched its own system for one with HD.

    "Our customers don't want online gaming." Result: Yeah, those Friend Codes were such a great idea. /sarcasm

    In fact, nothing Iwata has done, since taking the lead role, has done any good for Nintendo, which still remains nothing short than a company who offers gimmicks.

    Such a shame, because they can still command some of the best games on the market, even if that market is the size of a pinhead.

    PS: Nintendo is already working on its latest console. Huh. I wonder why.

    Until Nintendo fires Iwata, this isn't the Nintendo we grew up with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 22 Mar 2015 @ 9:04am

      Re:

      "this isn't the Nintendo we grew up with."

      The Nintendo we grew up with was a horrible company that engaged in lots of awful behavior. The "old" Nintendo wasn't exactly a company that should be held as an example of a good thing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Mar 2015 @ 3:48am

      Re:

      "In fact, nothing Iwata has done, since taking the lead role, has done any good for Nintendo, which still remains nothing short than a company who offers gimmicks."

      So this too is a bad move?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 4:25am

    I do expect any attempts to be riddled with performance crippling and experience shattering DRM, unfortunately. Still, progress! I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:14am

      Re: DRM, etc.

      This, in a nutshell. Don't go installing software/firmware from control-freak corporations on your main hardware until someone has cracked it and gone over it with a fine-toothed comb. Unless you like having your devices bricked, that is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:12am

    You gotta be kidding me

    Gamer here. Grew up (partially) in the 80s. Still have fond memories of playing games on the NES and SNES consoles.

    "Completely flabbergasted" that Nintendo... has so steadfastly resisted getting involved in mobile-device gaming? Not in the slightest.

    First off, bear in mind that Nintendo essentially invented "mobile device gaming." They called it the Game Boy, and it was one of the most successful consoles of all time. Its successors are still doing well today.

    But that's not what you're talking about here, is it? You don't really mean mobile devices, you mean smartphones. Well, there's a perfectly good reason for that: Have you ever tried actually playing games on a smartphone? They suck!

    Smartphones are great for doing what they're designed for, but console-style gaming, rich in games whose gameplay style requires multiple buttons that can be manipulated by touch (without looking at them) and pressed at the same time is not one of them. It's no wonder that the most popular smartphone games have all had incredibly simplistic interfaces; that's all you can do. If you want to actually play console games on a smartphone OS, you basically need to get an OUYA. Nintendo's been wise to stay out of that particular mess thus far.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:52am

      Re: You gotta be kidding me

      Hmmm... Yes, regular games on smartphones suck due to the poor controls but are simply GREAT to play on the run or where you can't take your console. Plus you can pair controllers with the phone and use them. So far I've successfully done so with the Wii controller, a bluetooth controller (it seems some models refuse to pair properly but there are some neat stuff like one that has a support to the smartphone on top of it) and a PS3 controller. You can even connect an hdmi cable to the phone and play on a TV set (haven't tried this yet). So basically it all depends on how the thing is implemented.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re: You gotta be kidding me

        The catch is that taking a game controller larger than your phone with you to play games on the go, usually isn't very practical either.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 9:55am

          Re: Re: Re: You gotta be kidding me

          Depends. If I'm in the subway I won't use em and the screen controls are enough but if you are gonna travel and want to do it lightweight it should be no burden to take a controller with you.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Mar 2015 @ 8:46am

        Re: Re: You gotta be kidding me

        If you're going to go to the effort of dragging a controller along with that you might go all-in and use a tablet instead so you can benefit from the bigger screen and maybe-better hardware.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:58am

      Re: You gotta be kidding me

      GBA and SNES emulators on smartphones ect don't suffer from control issues too badly. Past that the joysticks cause problems but many of Nintendo's classics are playable without suffering.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 20 Mar 2015 @ 5:16am

    Personally, I'm still hoping they'll take the next logical step and just add a SIM card slot to whatever they replace the 3DS with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CK20XX (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 7:16am

    For me, this news is significant because it indicates we may already be in the midst of the next, great, long-prophecized video game industry crash. There's been a LOT of bad gaming news lately; Jeff Minter being harassed, Maxis shutting down, Sony still in trouble, Kojima leaving Konami, and more. It's hard to not get the feeling that everything is falling apart. The last time that happened, way back in 1983, the console market imploded and the survivors fled to the PC market and helped it boom, which is what freaking Nintendo may actually be trying to do here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 7:24am

    Dear Nintendo

    Do not bother, you have already lost me as a gamer a long time ago with the Hardware ID/ Game binding for the console. Additionally your snobbery with specific games is not compatible with how I would like the future of gaming to be.

    I greatly enjoyed the NES and SNES, but you are no longer relevant in the market. If you want to become relevant again, please rid your selves of the filth hubris you have an and try to make customers happy again and stop the stupid shit like "we own all videos made of the games you play".

    Thank you,

    A past but not happy customer!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2015 @ 7:36am

    I've read that the company Nintendo is working with had such shady freemium tactics that the Japanese government had to step in. Like another person said, don't expect anything even resembling a port. My guess is the only thing we will see is even more terrible freemium games, just with a Nintendo skin on top.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vel the Enigmatic, 20 Mar 2015 @ 10:01am

    A bit of a note to Timothy and readers:

    Nintendo, from what I've read elsewhere is really only planning on using mobile games largely as an advertisement platform for their home and handheld console stuff rather than a new revenue stream from what I'm understanding. That's the reason they haven't shifted to mobile wholesale, unlike SEGA (but that's a different matter entirely).

    Good thing too, in my opinion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 20 Mar 2015 @ 2:05pm

    Too little, far too late. I'm already playing old games via various emulators on my phone, and DeNa can just fuck off as well because only my network provider and myself need to know my device IMEI.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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