Nintendo announced today a business and capital alliance with the mobile giant DeNA, and the two partners are holding a press conference in Tokyo with CEOs Satoru Iwata and Isao Moriyasu, giving more info on the deal and also revealing a brand new dedicated gaming platform.
Talks between the two company started in 2010, with Moriyasu-san bringing up the idea to use Nintendo IPs on DeNA’s mobile platform Mobage. He was very passionate about it, so contacts have continued ever since.
Iwata-san explained that Nintendo has heard particularly pessimistic opinions on the future of dedicated video game systems, since smart devices have absorbed many kind of dedicated devices like car navigation systems or music players.
However, there’s a big difference between Nintendo’s business and the other devices that have been devoured by smart devices. Nintendo is the main provider of software for its own hardware, and that’s a relevant element that pessimistic views fail to acknowledge.
That’s why Nintendo does not share that pessimistic standpoint, especially in view of the massive sales of 3DS games last year.
Nintendo has decided to take advantage aggressively of smart devices pretty much like it did with television as a communication window many years ago.
This was seen as the best way to maximize visibility of Nintendo IP to an extremely wide and varied consumer base, effectively enlarging the gaming population.
Iwata-san specified that the his previous remarks did not mean to dismiss the possibility of making Nintendo games on smart devices. Yet, he had to carefully consider the impact of this kind of business on the value of the IP.
Fact is that only a handful of companies manage to actually be successful on the mobile business. That’s why Nintendo decided that it would’t participate in that kind of platform until it secured the ability to be part of that handful of “winners.”
The alliance with DeNA puts Nintendo in the best position to achieve that, thanks to the strength of Nintendo’s IP and to the mobile giant’s operating expertise and know-how in building web services.
Nintendo hopes that hundreds of million of people will enjoy the new smartphone games, so there won’t be a limitation on which IP will be used as part of the alliance.
Yet, mobile games require ever-evolving services instead of just dropping fire-and-forget games in the market, therefore a joint effort will be required to operate the new experiences by Nintendo and DeNA.
Nintendo doesn’t want to just increase the number of titles released simultaneously, so the number of developed games will be narrowed down to some extent.
Even if the same IP will be used on smart devices, no existing title for Nintendo’s consoles will be directly ported to the new platforms, since there are big differences in controls and more. The new games will be completely different and developed specifically for their target platforms.
The specific details on the games and IP that will be published on mobile by DeNA will be shared at a later time. On the other hand, Nintendo will still focus on developing console games as they have done so far.
Iwata-san wanted to make sure the audience understood that Nintendo hasn’t lost its passion for dedicated game consoles, and in fact it is working on a platform utilizing a completely “new concept,” code named “NX.” Iwata-san hopes to share more about it next year.
As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development code name “NX.” It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.
The “NX” will also be part of the new membership service developed jointly with DeNA, which will encompass PC, 3DS, Wii U and mobile. This will be a relevant difference with the Club Nintendo service operated by the company.
Iwata-san concluded his part of the presentation with a promising statement on the combined power of Nintendo and DeNA.
The two companies have decided to collaborate because, for the challenges we explained today, the strengths of both Nintendo and DeNA will create an extremely powerful coombination.
Moriyasu-san also made a commitment to deliver quality games to Nintendo fans:
Lastly, I want to make a comment as a fan of games. I grew up playing Nintendo games, and I’m already excited that I will soon be able to play Nintendo IP games on smart devices.
At DeNA, we are aware that Nintendo has been the most beloved company in the gaming console space for quite a while. As such, I would like us to be a team that delivers the best games that truly delight our customers.
Finally, Iwata-san’s closing remarks sealed the deal:
Many content providers who are succeeding on smart devices are depending on single hit titles. One of my goals here is, now that we are challenging ourselves with this endeavor by making use of Nintendo IP, to produce multiple hit titles at an early stage after we start releasing our software on smart devices.
Also, until now, when we said, “platform,” it meant a specific video game platform. Now that we are going to release games on smart devices and make use of globally widespread PCs and smart devices for our new membership service, we would like to offer more consumers with software that is suited to their tastes. In other words, we are challenging ourselves to redefine what “Nintendo platforms” mean.
With this collaboration with DeNA, a partner with different strengths, we aim to achieve this goal as soon as possible.
What will this “NX” (which probably stands for “Nintendo X”) entail and what will its new gaming concept be? We’ll have to wait longer to know more. But color me intrigued.