Well, don't act all surprised -- ever since Nintendo began slipping in the home console race against Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation, you knew this day was coming. Nintendo's properties have always been well suited to portable play, and it's now finally bitten the bullet and announced that it will be developing games for smartphones.
Nintendo will partner with DeNA, a major Japanese mobile gaming developer, to create "new gaming applications featuring Nintendo IP," which the two "will develop specifically for smart devices." While this likely means that major Nintendo characters will appear in smartphone games note that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has stated "if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement.” So it seems their top guns will remain Nintendo exclusives, initially at least. Nintendo has also stated that it has no intention to port existing titles to mobile, but will instead create experiences tailored to the new platforms.
The DeNA partnership will see the two companies not only work across smartphones and tablets, but create a cross platform service that will also factor in PCs and Nintendo's own consoles. Nintendo takes a 10 per cent stake in DeNA through the deal, while DeNA picks up 1.24 per cent of Nintendo.
"To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system," says DeNA in a statement.
If you're getting all teary thinking this means that the Wii U will be the last standalone Nintendo console, fear not. The company also teased that it is already working on its next-generation console, codenamed the 'NX'. Nothing more was said of the console. While it's likely a long way away (and have today's mobile announcements factored in somewhere down the line too), Nintendo promise to reveal more information next year -- so don't hold your breath hoping to see some NX action at this summer's E3 conference.
The announcement of the NX seems to mean that the writing is already on the wall for Nintendo's struggling Wii U, with the company looking on to pastures new. What the mobile announcement means for Nintendo 3DS, the company's popular handheld that only recently saw a revised model launch, is not clear yet. It's certainly making the company a fair chunk of change, but with a smartphone in every pocket, Nintendo may begin to see a dedicated portable console of its own extraneous to its needs. Anyone want to put money on the NX being a smartphone / portable hybrid?