Nintendo is to release games featuring its flagship characters on smartphones for the first time, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Historically, Nintendo has jealously guarded its intellectual properties. Its characters — Mario, Bowzer, Zelda and Link, Samus, and more — are some of the most recognisable and iconic figures in gaming.
Its own forays into handheld gaming have previously been confined to its Game Boy line, and later the Nintendo DS and 3DS. But with the rise of smartphones, consumers are increasingly using their phones for gaming rather than shelling out for an additional device.
Nintendo’s newly announced move reflects this: It is partnering with Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA to produce a line of games for smartphones. Mario, Nintendo’s most recognisable gaming character and informal mascot, will be featuring in a game, according to the Journal.
“The alliance is intended to compliment Nintendo’s dedicated video game system business and expand Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide,” a press release states. The games will be original titles created specifically for smartphones, rather than ports of existing titles designed for Nintendo’s other hardware platforms.
The companies are also investing in one another. Each is spending 22 billion Yen ($US182 million) to acquire a stake in the other — DeNA will own 1.24% of Nintendo, while Nintendo, the larger company, will own 10% of DeNA.
The move is raising some hackles, however. The Guardian reports that DeNA relies heavily on the “freemium” model, whereby users download the title for free then pay for power-ups and in-game advantages, prompting fears that a similar payment system could be introduced to Nintendo’s flagship titles.