In case you haven’t heard, there was big news on Tuesday regarding Nintendo’s future. Nintendo and DeNA (mostly known for Mobage) announced that they would join together for a business and capital alliance. This is fantastic news, and what I think is a step in the right direction for Nintendo.
In the past, Nintendo has been very stern with their stance on the mobile gaming market, and I’ve agreed with them for the most part; having Nintendo IPs get watered down and (possibly) riddled with in-app purchases does not sound like any kind of Nintendo product I want. However, completely avoiding the mobile market isn’t the way to go either. This recent alliance addresses this question, and seems to be a great answer.
For one, Iwata hasn’t completely changed his views on mobile gaming. He doesn’t want to just jump into the mobile “pool” and start throwing Nintendo IPs all over; he realizes that Nintendo needs to build the brand, not spread it thin. This isn’t a new focus either, since it was announced last year that a smartphone app was being made, and Iwata has even mentioned implementing Mii avatars for social media usage.
The point of all this? To grab the attention of mobile gamers and point them towards Nintendo consoles. The fear, however, was that Nintendo would fall prey to mobile gaming and “cheapen” their IPs – can you imagine playing a knock-off Zelda title on a smartphone? This was addressed today in the presentation as well, with Iwata stating that completely separate titles would be made for the smartphone app. This is very smart for three reasons: investors will be happy that Nintendo is stepping into another market (potential new revenue), fans won’t have to worry about Nintendo software losing their quality or foundation in a dedicated console, and mobile gamers will be exposed to Nintendo-quality products.
And speaking of a dedicated console, the “NX” was briefly mentioned; the next Nintendo console that the company is currently working on. Now, keep in mind that this presentation was not about the NX, but rather, brought up the NX to assure fans that Nintendo isn’t leaving their hardware behind for the mobile market. Iwata simply stated that the new membership system, in which DeNA is collaborating with them on, would also work with NX, and that fans wouldn’t have to worry about Nintendo leaving the gaming console market. The awesome news about this is not the announcement of NX – and no, this does not mean the Wii U is dead and Nintendo is leaving it behind! – but rather, that Nintendo is planning this new service with DeNA to function on current and next-gen products.
For instance, why would Nintendo invest so much time, effort, and money into titles like Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Star Fox U, Mario Maker, and Zelda U, to release for the Wii U in 2015? Why would Nintendo decide to abandon the Wii U when it has finally begun to pick up speed and is doing much better than it did the previous couple of years? Why would Nintendo overshadow their recent release of the New 3DS XL in the West when there are still many sales to be had? No, this presentation wasn’t about the NX, but rather, the NX was forced into the spotlight in order to reassure Nintendo fans. And hey, with the announcement of the NX and the move to the mobile market, have you seen Nintendo’s stock in just one day?
Which leads me to the most exciting part (well, exciting to me, at least) of the presentation: DeNA will be working with Nintendo in these future endeavors. Iwata has stated before that he desired a membership program which would reach a larger audience, and it looks like DeNA will be the company to work on the new services with Nintendo. Although we don’t know all the information quite yet, this seems to be an indicator that everything will be connected, finally. No separate friend code for 3DS and NNID for the Wii U: all systems, and even other platforms, will use a unified online system. This has potential to make the online experience fluid, and easier to navigate on various devices. Data will remain within Nintendo’s grasp, but the fact they are going outside of the company to get help streamlining their functionality and online services is fantastic.
Imagine: Nintendo finally taking the final step into the online gaming world, connecting all of their devices together with a unified online system. A move like this could lead to purchased products (whether games or otherwise) being linked to accounts rather than solely on hardware. And hey, while I’m hoping, perhaps we will start to see cross-buying more prevalent between the 3DS and Wii U, and the NX and whatever handheld there might be (if they don’t create a hybrid system, like I’ve discussed before.)
There is still much to be learned, and I wouldn’t expect Nintendo to give everything away so soon, since they plan on revealing more information next year. The beauty with an announcement like this is that it promotes so many possibilities. Who knows how amiibo will be incorporated with the smartphone app; what kind of connectivity will the Quality of Life program have; how will current systems utilize the new services? This is what Nintendo has needed for some time. I personally enjoy the Wii U, and think it is a fantastic machine with superb titles. However, Nintendo’s marketing for the home console hasn’t been nearly as good, and it developed too much negativity at the beginning of the Wii U’s life cycle. It’s good to have a joint venture like this, and it seems that many who may not have cared before might actually be interested in Nintendo again.
If you forget every single thing about this happily written article, remember this:
Nintendo fans – this is great news, so relax.
Non-Nintendo fans – this is not a statement that the Wii U or Nintendo is dead, so relax.
In other words, just relax and let’s look forward to what is ahead for the long-running game company.