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"Nintendo will be another titan in the mobile game industry"

The mobile industry reacts with enthusiasm and optimism to Nintendo's huge news this week

For the first time perhaps since Nintendo launched the original Wii console, there's an excitement in the air that's almost palpable. The news that Nintendo will indeed start making games for smartphones and tablets has taken control of news headlines this week among games media and even gotten the attention of mainstream media (something Nintendo has largely failed to do since the Wii).

While you've already heard from the staff and our regular contributor Rob Fahey on what the deal with DeNA means, we're now happy to bring you a round-up of reactions from people in the mobile industry.

The general consensus appears to be one of excitement. Rather than being concerned about another top flight games maker entering an already highly competitive space, mobile developers seem to be welcoming Nintendo with open arms. Nintendo helps bring a legitimacy to mobile gaming that some may have felt was missing to this point.

Here, in no particular order, is a collection of quotes from folks in the mobile games industry.

Kristian Segerstrale, COO, Super Evil Megacorp: "It's great to see that more core game developers are taking mass market touch screens seriously as a primary gaming device. We're all huge Nintendo fans and would love to see them do well on mobile! Having more AAA game developers enter the market is beneficial for both players and the industry as it raises the standards for quality. Nintendo has a huge opportunity to broaden their fan base, and also an enormous challenge in ensuring that their brand and in-game experience translates to mobile and tablets."

Teemu Maki Patola, COO of Frogmind: "Nintendo has a lot of strong IPs that are likely to fit mobile gaming well. It also knows how to make good game design. And apparently has realised that strategically it needs to be involved in mobile gaming. DeNA has a lot of experience in making successful products on mobile and knows how to make well performing F2P games. It has a lot of data of analytics, F2P business intelligence etc. I think the partnership can save a few years of Nintendo's time. This way Nintendo is not required to go through the F2P learning curve (in which it has been completely uninvolved) but can skip ahead relying on DeNA's knowledge on the areas it lacks. To really work, the co-operation needs deep strategic partnership which they set with the ritual of buying each other's stock making the success of the other a mutual interest for both."

"Nintendo's move to mobile is another validation of the rapid acceleration of the mobile game market"

Kabam's Kent Wakeford

Jesse Divnich, VP of Product and Insights at Tilting Point: "The 25 percent jump in Nintendo's stock sums up the overwhelmingly positive reaction from investors. Nintendo's partnership with DeNA is Nintendo's acceptance that mobile and tablet devices are a legitimate outlet for interactive entertainment. The partnership with DeNA allows Nintendo to take part in the explosive mobile sector without disrupting their core business. We've seen countless bankruptcies, over spending on studio or tech acquisitions, and outright blunders when large organizations try to pivot on their own. Nintendo made a smart move by accepting a path of least resistance to bring their IPs into other gaming verticals. "More importantly, this is a chance for Nintendo to take back a demographic they once dominated. More kids are getting iPad Minis for Christmas than a Nintendo handheld. We live in a world where more kids recognize Creeper from Minecraft over Mario."

Kabam COO Kent Wakeford: "Nintendo's move to mobile is another validation of the rapid acceleration of the mobile game market. The devices we carry in our pockets have the computing power of consoles. You play mobile games whenever you want, wherever you want, on your time and your terms. The companies offering consumer-favorite IP with AAA high fidelity console quality gameplay on mobile devices will be the winners. Kabam welcomes Nintendo to the battle for consumers' hearts on mobile devices.​"

Michael A. Hoyos, President, Space Rhino Games: "Nintendo has been lagging behind the rest of the industry for some years now. They've been relying mostly on the strength of their IP to see them through tough times; this wasn't going to last very long, especially with their major hardware markets shrinking -- which is also how their IP stays relevant. But one thing they do have is an uncanny ability to materialize jet packs during free falls. They did so when they came up with the Wii and their signature motion sensor controls, and I believe they are doing it again. The deal with DeNA is like a small guy jumping on another small guy's shoulder to punch the big guys in the face. Not that DeNA and Nintendo are small, but the reality is they are no longer the leaders of their respective markets. The Nintendo/DeNA alliance is about to dominate mobile in a big way. From here to a year, we will all be saying, 'Oh yeah, they're back!'"

Samuel Coster, Co-Founder, Butterscotch Shenanigans: "This is huge for mobile games and for Nintendo -- the sort of slumbering giant that's yet to enter the mobile arena in a big way. We're most curious to see how Nintendo works with the mobile market monetization structure: Will they reject the free-to-play schemes of the market and opt for a premium experience, or go full mobile and have us all paying for extra blue shells? It's certain that Nintendo's presence will be a boon to gamers, but it's not clear exactly the effect (if any) it may have on the market itself."

Michael Agustin, Chief Executive Officer, Weaver Labs: "Nintendo's investment and partnership with DeNA gives Nintendo a way to satisfy investors and experiment in the mobile market -- and it gives DeNA a way to move beyond Zynga's fast-follow model into higher quality game design with household brands."

Nancy Lu, Creator of Piiig Inc: "Nintendo will be another titan in the mobile game industry, along the lines of Supercell. With their established brand name and likely support from Apple, they won't have issues getting visibility. The upsetting thing is that they will probably employ the same strategy of free-to-pay and cash in on virtual goods. For those of us who enjoyed playing Mario on consoles growing up, it will really change the way the game is played for the worse. I hope they carefully consider their monetization strategy so that they don't frustrate their old fans. If they do it right, it could really pave the way for a new wave of console-to-mobile games."

Dominic Hamelin-Blais, Creator of Bunnies' Empire: "Considering the successful expertise of DeNA in freemium games, we could expect free-to-play games for the Nintendo IP. It would be interesting to see the collaboration between Nintendo's high-quality standards and DeNA's knowledge of monetization. Nintendo has never been afraid to innovate in the past. The mobile space is constantly changing and is very influenceable. We saw this with Flappy Bird, which introduced quick gameplay loops/sessions. Hundreds of successful games have followed this model. All eyes are on Nintendo and DeNA now. They could have a huge impact on the future of the mobile gaming space."

Ahmed Bukhatir, Chief Executive Officer, Woweez: "I've been a Nintendo lover since 1985, and I always wished that there were other ways I could play their games. Knowing that Mario is now coming to my smartphone, I can't begin to express my excitement. It seems likely that all the original Nintendo titles will be exclusive to the NX device unless Nintendo decides to open its titles to all other platforms, which will allow it to gain a stronger foothold into the mobile game industry. This is a great move, but it could also be dangerous because it's a completely new venture for Nintendo. However, considering that most of the big game development companies are getting into mobile, so should Nintendo. Imagine playing Zelda on a smartphone? Now that's a dream come true."

-András Velvárt, CEO, SongArc Kft: "It will be interesting to see them enter one of the most competitive marketplaces in the gaming industry. Nintendo certainly has the IP and the experience to make a splash."

Ben Cousins, CEO, The Outsiders, via Twitter: "Anyone want to predict which year Nintendo's smartphone game business will be bigger than their home console business?"

Neil Young, Founder & CEO of N3TWORK, via Twitter: "Congrats to @DeNACorp on it's alliance with Nintendo. Huge opportunity for both companies & exciting for fans of Nintendo's amazing games."

Rami Ismail, Vlambeer, via Twitter: "If Nintendo can go into the mobile market, all predictions about this industry are void. Only predictions after March 17th are now valid."

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Latest comments (9)

Jordan Lund Columnist 6 years ago
It all depends on what DeNA does though, doesn't it? I'm what you'd call "cautiously optimistic". The potential problem is two-fold:

1) Nintendo has had bad luck licensing their games in the past. Remember what happened on the Phillips CDi?

2) They have explicitly stated that they don't intend on porting existing games to mobile (something people want), rather they intend on creating new games using Nintendo IP (which we don't know if people want.)

Combine 1 & 2 together and you get clones of existing mobile games with a Mario skin layed over them. Are people going to buy a Flappy Bird clone with Mario in a Tanooki Suit? Or a Mario vs. Bowser Plants vs. Zombies thing?

It's possible they would be big hits, it's also possible that people would go "Nah, I already have that..." and pass.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Jordan, it goes even beyond what Anthony linked you to. Despite the fact that Nintendo themselves will develop the mobile games (something I myself initially believed was being handled by DeNA), look at how many Nintendo IPs are already licensed out to other developers. Nintendo internally develops a little more than half of the games it publishes on 3DS. The CD-i abominations are the anomaly to the licensing history of Nintendo IP and that was largely because there was no oversight at all to the product. Something certainly not repeated with licensed IP today. Super Smash for Wii U and 3DS, for instance, was developed externally.
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Show all comments (9)
Jordan Lund Columnist 6 years ago
Jim, they have had issues there too. I'd remind you of Metroid: Other M. They need to be VERY careful in the new space.

I am glad to see though that they are heading development. Previous stories made it sound as though it was all on DeNA.

It still concerns me that they aren't considering releasing existing titles. A Pokemon app that allowed you to buy individual GB Poklemon games would be a license to print money. That's really what people want, but they don't seem to be inclined.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Jordan, again, that's a single outlier against a background of dozens of successful and quality externally developed titles. I'm not suggesting every title would have been exemplary but their ratio of good to bad externally developed IP is heavily in favor of good.
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Craig Bamford Journalist 6 years ago
Oh boy, a titan in the mobile space? Can't wait to see Mario chasing those whales.

Yes, I'm apprehensive about this. I'm an oldschool Sega fan. I remember just how much people cheered Sega's decision to go software-only and make games for other platforms. Wild predictions of riches and prosperity flooded the Web, issued from the keyboard of every "analyst" people could find.

Look at what happened.

Even if mobile isn't headed for a rather drastic correction, I still can't see why Nintendo would undercut the long-term success of their handheld business just to repeat Sega's mistake.

Edit: And as a rejoinder to Ben Cousin's comment:

Sure, I could see the mobile division being bigger than their console/handheld business. What you have to ask yourself, though: Is that going to happen because of the mobile division growing, or the rest of it collapsing?

Sega's mobile efforts are bigger than their console business too. They'd have to be. But after all the bloodletting and wasted IPs, I'm not sure that's exactly the sort of thing that we should be cheering on.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Bamford on 19th March 2015 8:42pm

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
Given that Gungho Online's mobile smash Puzzle and Dragons is coming stateside as a standalone game with two entire games on a cart, I'd say anyone here doubting this can be done right needs to maybe see how that game does before shooting down the entire thing.

If Nintendo can change the monetizing format to something that actually makes sense to the parents paying for these new games, it'll be fine and maybe innovative in that way Nintendo surprises people on occasion. I seriously doubt the company wants to be known for some of the tactics some complain about with other mobile titles. But of course, some will probably gripe about having to buy a new Nintendo system at some point in 2016 or whenever when there's nothing wrong with the one they just got for a holiday gift.

As I noted elsewhere, they can make Amiibo's fly off shelves even faster if they do something like a Steam-like download service where you get a game for your device or console at a low price (or free, if that's a rout they choose), then optionally supplement that experience with an Amiibo or two (or more if one is inclined to collect them) that works across any platform. I believe these games won't (initially) be anything but cute casual games for short sessions and not a waste of resources because they'll be planned out accordingly and released (and updated) regularly.

That is, provided Nintendo has learned from past mistakes and comes out of the gate strong with games people WANT to play. Hopefully, they've spent some of that past five years looking at the mistakes made by other companies so they don't replicate them. I think they know what they're doing and where they want it to go. I'm gathering it's up to writers to stray outside their modern comfort zones of speculation and coming up with click-bait headlines and stories and start looking at the positives of this deal.

But that would be TOO boring for some, I guess...
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd6 years ago
The idea that Nintendo didn't think mobile devices were "legitimate gaming platforms" before announcing this deal is a bit of an embellishment. Just because a company doesn't see a practical route to get involved in a specific sector doesn't mean they're passing judgement on it.

I think it's a smart move for Nintendo to keep mobile at arms length, gaining a benefit from it without clashing with their core business. From a personal point of view, I hope that if the deal is successful they'll be encouraged to try similar things on other platforms. A satellite organisation (think a "Miramax" to Nintendo's "Disney") could extend their reach onto PC or even other consoles.

And yes obviously the games will be F2P. (Or even paymium - there is probably no limit to the price the market will bear for Nintendo IP, at least while it's a novelty.) Why get DeNA involved at all otherwise?

And no, obviously it won't be bigger than their console business. Every invested Nintendo customer gives them more revenue than what F2P folk would consider a 'whale', and there are tens of millions of them.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee6 years ago
I don't see why not. Pokemon alone could rule the world (again).
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