Will Mario Rocket Into Your Pocket?

Mario Mobile Gaming

Smartphone gaming

As I read the news this week about Nintendo’s decision to enter the smartphone market for gaming, I couldn’t hold back my excitement. The notion of being able to battle my friends wirelessly on Toad’s Turnpike in Mario Kart 64, challenging my foes in GoldenEye 007 and take on the world with Bulbasaur in Pokemon challenge, gave me a level of excitement only a new iPhone announcement could top.

Early last week, Nintendo held a press conference to announce the introduction of their new UX device platform. Fans though were more stunned and excited by the news that Nintendo had ventured into a new relationship with mobile game publisher DeNA. The idea was to develop "new gaming applications featuring Nintendo IP, which both companies will develop specifically for smartphone devices."

At first I was elated, but then I read on.

“The corporation clarified that it is not interested in porting older games to mobiles, but in fact wants to create original games, optimised for smart devices".

What...

“The gaming giant said that existing games built for other Nintendo platforms like the Wii U and 3DS will not be transferred”.

Hmmm…

“The main challenge will be knitting together the cultures of both companies and aligning the speed of development and iteration that is needed in the mobile space to develop new and exciting games for our users”. - Mr Harding-Rolls.

The Catch...

Mario Fly Catcher

There is some good news though. Nintendo have said “it is not restricting any IP for mobile platforms”, meaning that possibilities are open for mobile games based on Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing, Pikmin, and so on to be created... the catch though is that Nintendo will be producing original content for mobile devices, with our old favourite games not to be produced anytime soon.

In the late 90’s, Nintendo dominated the market with arguable the most innovate gaming platform of its era. They were able to capture an army of beloved followers, who have been crying out for a release of their favourites to mobile based platforms for decades. It’s puzzling as to why Nintendo wouldn’t be looking to capitalise upon their biggest and most successful market segment in history.

Late To The Mobile Game

What 20 - 35 year old globally (the smart phones biggest market segment) wouldn’t be jumping at the chance to play their old favourites on a mobile platform? It's puzzling as to why Nintendo have taken so long to act upon an industry that last year generated $26 billion in consumer spending, a platform that reaches over 1.8 billion smartphone users globally and is expected to reach other another 1.2 billion in the next three years.

Mario Coins

Why on earth wouldn’t they look at simply just reapplying the old, ever popular systems and looking to introduce – once they have re-established their marketing position – new games into the mix?

Nintendo have come under fire previously for their unusual strategies. The introduction of the Wii (which was one of the first devices to appropriately and innovate use motion sensitive technology in gameplay) and remastering of Mario Kart upset a lot of loyal fans who were traumatised at the very notion of their beloved characters and tracks, remastered and reinvented. As a result, lifelong Nintendo fans were dusting off their old Nintendo 64’s in favour of the new Wii Mario Kart game play.

Extra Life

It’s understandable that Nintendo would look to avoid cannibalism with some of the Nintendo XD and Gameboy console systems, but this doesn’t excusing the notion. With smartphone technology and user interaction growing at such a fast rate, it would be foolish to not adequately adapt to mobile platforms with games that they know they have an established customer base in.

The other notion is whether Nintendo simply have the technology to repurpose their old content (lol), or whether it is easier and more profitable for them to continue to bring out new games and new platforms? Do they need to find the right combination of both, looking after their own profits and consumers needs... I honestly think it wouldn’t hurt…

What do you think?