By Wesley Y.
Last month, around mid-March, Nintendo dropped major news about some changes in their “game plan”, deciding to go mobile and partnering up with DeNA, well known for their partnerships with Disney and SonyMusic, to make games for the mobile market. This was paired with an announcement of a future Nintendo console temporarily called the “NX”. The news was met with mixed reactions that were generally positive, having mainly talked about the mobile move rather than the NX, which might be expected due to the fact that they only briefly mentioned it, instead of talking in full length about it. There is one thing that is certain, soon fans of Nintendo will soon be seeing Nintendo in a new setting, their smartphones.
First and foremost, the news of going to the mobile market is giant news. Nintendo had previously made statements about how, if they went mobile, “Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo” and that smartphones “have no motivation to maintain the high value of video game software”. Then more recently, around early 2014, they made changes stating that they were “studying how smart devices can be used to grow game-player business.” Now back to present day, Nintendo takes a complete 180 and says they will definitely expand to the mobile market. This flip-flopping is confusing the community and it makes them question what Nintendo’s stance on the mobile market really is.
There is some positive outlook for the future of Nintendo, while some call it “a smart move”, other fans of the company, however, fears it also going the way Sega. Sega’s recent market failures such as Sonic 2006 and the Wii U exclusive Sonic Boom, has put Sega in a financial bind. These poorly rated games have ultimately led to recent shut downs of their European, Australian and now one of their American offices as well. Sega has also stated they will focus on PC and mobile games rather than console games. So how does this relate back to Nintendo? Well, Nintendo’s latest home console, the Wii U, has sold 9 million units but despite being released a year earlier, it trails behind its’ competitors, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, having sold 11 million and 20 million respectively. The Wii U’s failure to sell has placed Nintendo with some financial difficulties, similar to Sega. Now, most recently they have announced “going mobile”, once again, similar to Sega. Some fans have come to the conclusion that Nintendo will go the way of Sega.
What’s the evidence against this pattern? Well, simply put, Nintendo is not Sega. Nintendo is still a gaming giant, their home console may not have sold well, but they are still considered kings of the handheld console market, having the 3DS selling over 50 million units, over five times as many as their Playstation counterpart, the PS Vita, only around 9 million units. While Sega has recently shut down offices because financial problems and went mobile, their presence in the console market was already dying down in 2001 when they discontinued their final console, the Sega Dreamcast. Nintendo isn’t going to put all of their work into the mobile market; they announced the NX at the same time as the mobile move announcement. Though it was only briefly mentioned, it was a way to show that they weren’t moving away from hardware console gaming, what they are doing is expanding their horizons, and testing a quickly growing market in both popularity and possibilities. They aren’t doing this alone either, with the partnership of DeNA, they have a company already has a strong foothold in the market. This announcement was also a big financial boost for Nintendo as well, after Nintendo announced the news, their US stock prices soared up almost 30%, showing some positive intrigue towards the future of Nintendo.
This is not the end of Nintendo. The news of Nintendo’s move to the mobile market may have sounded astonishing, FORBES contributor Erik Kain even calling it “earth-shattering”, but it is still good news. In the words of Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, “This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles. It doesn’t mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand.” Like Iwata said, this isn’t going to take away from their console games, it’s creating a bridge that will strengthen Nintendo.
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