Nintendo isn’t going to change its tune on mobile games anytime soon. And that might be a huge mistake.
In a Q&A with investors, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata reaffirmed the company’s longstanding stance on mobile games, saying, “Basically, Nintendo’s utilization of smart devices means to ‘make a stronger bond with our consumers through the use of smart devices,’ instead of to ‘do business directly on smart devices.'”
That doesn’t mean the company is ignoring mobile entirely. Iwata stressed the importance optimising its websites for mobile phones, as well as building out a mobile site for the company’s Mii characters, which is Nintendo’s version of avatars, and are used in various games, including “Tomadachi Life.”
“If we were able to expand the Mii population and Mii were usable on consumers’ smart devices, for example, if consumers were able to create their profile icons on social media using Mii, we believe consumers would be happy, and we are developing something like it now,” he said to investors.
In a Q&A with Re/code’s Eric Johnson, Nintendo of America’s President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime reiterated the sentiment, saying, “It hasn’t changed our philosophy, which continues to be that we believe that it’s best for the gamer and the consumer to have gaming experiences that are unique and differentiated, and part of the way we deliver that is with our unique and differentiated hardware.”
Not releasing mobile versions of its games is missed opportunity for Nintendo, not least of which because the market for mobile games is huge. According to a recent report by App Annie (via Business Insider Intelligence), games represent 75% of mobile spending on iOS, and 80% on Android. Casual games, such as “Kim Kardashian Hollywood,” brought in $US43 million in the third quarter alone. And King, the maker of the game “Candy Crush,” is still killing it: The company reported adjusted profit of $US177.4 million, or $US0.56 per share, which beat expectations for earnings of $US0.47.
According to Juniper Research, mobile gaming’s footprint will continue to grow. Juniper predicts that gaming on tablets will reach $US13.3 billion by 2019; in 2014, that number was $US3.6 billion.
Other game companies are finding success in the mobile game market, as well. EA posted a Q2 revenue of $US1.22 billion, thanks in large part to growth in the mobile gaming sector. The company has 155 million active monthly mobile game users.
But there’s hope yet for Nintendo. And it might start with its Amiibos, Nintendo’s version of Disney’s “Infinity” series of games and Activision’s “Skylanders,” where physical game pieces are used in the games.
According to IGN, Nintendo will not region-lock Amiibos. That means the pieces will just work on any Nintendo device, no matter which region it’s in.
Activision offers its “Skylanders” toys for mobile devices, and has found great success there, according to Kotaku. The tablet version comes with a special controller that pairs with your tablet, making it easy to play. The logical next step for Nintendo could be to make its Amiibos available on tablets, as well.
Nintendo is also partnering with a company called Loot Crate to offer Amiibo subscriptions, according to GameSpot.
By making the Amiibos work on any device, regardless of region, as well as partnering with third parties to offer the figurines, Nintendo is putting all of the pieces in place to make a huge impact in the mobile space.
And people are clamoring for Nintendo to do so, including its investors and even internal employees. According to the Motley Fool, it’s even creating something of an “internal revolt” between high-level execs and Iwata.
The undeniable potential of mobile gaming, as well as the increasing calls for Nintendo to push into the mobile space, should make it clear to the company and Iwata that the future can be bright when it comes to mobile gaming. It just needs to be open to trying new things. And let’s face it: Nintendo can use all the help it can get right now. It recently announced that it’s on track to reporting an annual profit for the first time in four years.