Nintendo, not DeNA, to "mainly" handle mobile development - Iwata

Satoru Iwata clarifies who's making Nintendo's mobile games and affirms that they may act as a bridge to dedicated game systems

By James Brightman.Published Wednesday 18th March 2015, 4:57pm GMT

Nintendo's new partnership with mobile firm DeNA has gotten a lot of people in the industry talking, with some - including the GamesIndustry.biz staff - questioning just how Nintendo-like the actual mobile games will be under DeNA's stewardship. Well, as it turns out, many of us may have falsely assumed the respective roles that Nintendo and DeNA will occupy in this new relationship. In an interview with Time, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata made it perfectly clear: the mobile games will be made by Nintendo, but they will benefit from DeNA's network expertise.

"Development of smart device games will be mainly done by Nintendo, but it is significant that we are forming a joint development structure with DeNA. Nintendo, through experience in the dedicated game system business, is good at making traditional game products. But for smart devices, in addition to the 'product' aspect of a game, the aspect of an ever-evolving 'service' is very important-a service that encourages consumers to play every day even for a short time," he said. "DeNA has extensive know-how in developing the 'service' side of things, and will be primarily responsible for the service-oriented operations. We will be able to greatly leverage strengths of each party."

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While the mobile games will likely have that "Nintendo touch" then, don't expect Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto to lead any mobile charge, at least not initially. "As for any involvement of Mr. Miyamoto, we will discuss it when possible, but for now, understand that his priority is on the development of Wii U titles that will be launched this year," Iwata added.

One of the oft-cited reasons that Nintendo has steered clear of mobile this whole time is that making mobile titles will somehow water down their franchises' value and ultimately hurt their brand. Iwata, however, stressed that Nintendo will make sure that doesn't happen.

"...we will not do anything that may hurt Nintendo IP. We will not do anything that may hurt Nintendo's brand image-that parents can feel safe giving their children access to it," he said.

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If anything, Iwata now sees the mobile opportunity as a way to enhance the value of Nintendo's IP. As many have speculated, Iwata confirmed that his company does indeed view Nintendo games on mobile as a gateway of sorts to more in-depth experiences on dedicated systems.

"...we believe that we will be able to use smart devices in a very unique way so that they can be a bridge to our dedicated game systems, and at the same time, that we will be able to deliver unique experiences to the users of smart devices. As you know, even before the advent of smart devices, we employed touchscreens for our games with Nintendo DS, and we also adopted accelerometers for our Wii Remotes faster than smart devices did, and produced unique games. By utilizing our unique know-how in areas like these, I believe we will be able to come up with unique propositions for consumers," he said.

Nintendo may be taking mobile far more seriously now, but that doesn't at all imply that the company is switching gears. In fact, the announcement of the new NX hardware that's in development was deliberately timed with the DeNA partnership precisely because Nintendo wanted to reinforce that it's still very much in the hardware game, Iwata explained.

"For us to be able to do something unique that is different from others, being able to design the hardware in order to create unique software experiences gives us the best option. As I said, Nintendo will continue its dedicated video game system business with an even stronger passion," he said.

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