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Ask Gamasutra: Time for Nintendo to make some mobile games?
Ask Gamasutra: Time for Nintendo to make some mobile games? Exclusive
January 22, 2014 | By Staff

January 22, 2014 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Exclusive

Over a year after the launch of the Wii U, there is no question: Nintendo's latest game console is in trouble.

The fact is, not enough people are buying the Wii U. Following subpar sales over the past months, Nintendo had to bite the bullet and project losses for the year, when previously it was expecting a profit.

And once again, there have been calls for Nintendo to go against its tradition of creating games for its own hardware, and release games on mobile devices.

So it's a good time for Gamasutra's staff and contributors to weigh in on the question: Is it in Nintendo's best interest to get into the mobile game business?

Kris Graft

Twitter: @krisgraft

Nobody would be saying "Nintendo should release games on smartphones" if the Wii U was actually selling well. But it's not selling well -- so analysts, investors and others are suggesting a forced adaptation to mobile as a short-term corrective measure to increase profitability, without considering that Nintendo is totally unproven in the realm of mobile game development and mobile business models. Making mobile game development (well, trying to make it) a core strength would take more time and work than some people appreciate, and put the company's core business at risk.

Some folks look at Nintendo's (major) problems in selling the Wii U, and assume it's a Nintendo problem -- that Nintendo's formula of integrated hardware and software development is flawed. Well, it's flawed inasmuch as yes, there is very little room for error, whether you're talking about, say, Wii U's marketing (subpar), the third-party support (bleh), developer relations (gasp) or the software release schedule (guh). Because there is so little room for error, when Nintendo fails, it fails big -- but it can also succeed big. That's just the nature of the Nintendo formula, and that volatility scares the crap out of people who are financially invested in the company, so they panic and string sentences together that involve the words "Mario" and "iPhone."

Too many big failures could lead to the demise of Nintendo. But to say that the way to avoid future failures is for Nintendo to willingly take its eye off the ball and wade into the tumultuous world of mobile game development -- competing with the Kings, Supercells and Rovios of the world -- just doesn't make sense. It's odd: There's so much doubt in Nintendo's ability to play to its strengths, yet so much faith in the company to be able to develop new strengths in a new market, and become successful.

Look at the kinds of games Nintendo has always made. Now look at the kinds of games on the top-grossing mobile charts. See the disconnect?

Leigh Alexander

Twitter: @leighalexander

What Nintendo really needs to do is go on NeoGAF and Twitter, read some of the suggestions, and go with that. I'm kidding, of course, but no games company has ever been better than Nintendo at inventing its own spaces, blithely disregarding speculation.

We games journalists thought the Wii was just a kids' toy with a stupid name and a lot of tacky peripherals no one wanted. Wrong. We thought weird-size handheld options wouldn't sell meaningfully. Wrong. We thought Nintendo needed traditional multiplayer and online functionality, we thought the 3D thing was a gimmick, we thought the company had lost interest in its core gaming brands, and that all turned out wrong, too.

Even when it seems willfully tone-deaf to what's going on in the industry, Nintendo's strategies turn out to work. The Wii U looks like the first time in a long generation that it's been wrong. Except even this time a lot of people also thought it would be relatively easy to sell Christmastime families on a shiny upgrade to their Wii. Wrong.

Of course the industry has changed, and the specialty hardware space that Nintendo owns and operates is greatly diminished. While the company's been tending its own garden, the Wii's family audience has moved to mobile platforms. It would seem the company should follow them -- but for a company that's never followed anyone, it's tough to call. And this is a market and an infrastructure in which Nintendo is critically behind. It'll hardly be the simple, logical migration that some would like.

So my answer's "maybe no?" If not, then what? Can't guess -- no matter what we think is a good idea for the company, we're likely to be wrong. Again.

Kris Ligman
Contributing Editor

Twitter: @krisligman

This has been such a long time coming. As an invested Sega player throughout most of my childhood (a "Sega orphan," as I sometimes put it), I feel like Nintendo should be sidling up to its former competitor for a shock blanket, some cocoa and a bit of reassuring advice.

All good things come to an end, and Nintendo's situation with the Wii U is seeming more like Sega's problem with the Dreamcast every month now: a few solid first-party titles are not enough to make a weird piece of home hardware into a strong investment, no matter how you slice it. Mind you, Nintendo has an edge that Sega didn't in the early '00s, in that it still has a good grip on the handheld market (something Sega never really managed), and a good stable of IPs it can take forward.

If Nintendo takes that forward into mobile, it might help, but honestly I think it would only serve as a stopgap measure. Nintendo needs to pivot and completely double down on its core strengths, which currently are the 3DS, its character pantheon, and its first-party devs. Put its titles on other platforms (including mobile), work on a good, worthy successor to the 3DS (not this 2DS nonsense), and forget about home consoles for a while. The era of the Famicom -- as a concept -- has come and gone, and Nintendo needs to catch up to that fact.

Alex Wawro
News editor

Twitter: @awawro

Nobody can know whether or not getting into the mobile game business is in Nintendo’s best interest except, well, Nintendo. I want to believe it could be -- the mobile market can be lucrative, and Nintendo’s first-party studio roster is brimming with talent. I’d love to see what they do with a mandate to develop a game specifically for a touchscreen device.

Of course, such a move would seem to put Nintendo in an awkward position. Once the company begins developing mobile games -- especially if it chickens out and brings established franchises to mobile instead of creating new titles tailor-made for the platform — consumer interest in its hardware might dwindle even further.

I think that’s a risk worth taking. Nintendo hardware isn’t selling like the company wants it to anyway, and that’s not for want of great first-party software. I think it’s in Nintendo’s best interest to branch out and try its hand at developing a mobile game with new characters and mechanics tuned for touchscreen devices. A great first-party Nintendo mobile game might give the company a much-needed financial boost, shake up a staid development process and attract new fans that might eventually be swayed -- through canny cross-platform development down the road -- into buying Nintendo hardware.

Brandon Sheffield
Sr. Contributing Editor Gamasutra; Independent Game Developer

Twitter: @necrosofty

I'm not the biggest Nintendo fan. I believe very strongly that the company needs to change pretty significantly to adapt to the current state of the world, and it's been grinding away with ancient business practices for far too long. It had a real good run with the Wii, but got too complacent about the internet, user friendliness, and most important to me, developer relations. But that doesn't mean Nintendo needs to throw away the things that have made it unique in order to jump on the current hot platform.

Nintendo is not in dire straits. Yes, the company is forecasting a loss, but it also has massive cash at hand. People talk about the GameCube as a loss for Nintendo, but it made good money on that console. This year was one of the first where it lost money, so it can afford to try, experiment, and fail quite a bit more before it gets into real trouble. And looking at its current console offering, there's a lot more experimenting Nintendo can do, and plenty of opportunity for catch-up, to get into a better situation. What if the Wii U and 3DS virtual console stores were the same, and featured cross-play and save sharing? It's the bare minimum Nintendo should do, along with a revamp of its store.

But it could do a lot more, too. Start incentivizing developers to make games for Nintendo consoles. Drop the Wii U controller and make the cheapest current gen console around. Be the first of the big three to drop the retail chain. There's lots to try, and Iwata and co. are smart enough to eventually figure this out.

What's more, Nintendo is not at all ready for this kind of jump. It's not ready to give up control of its platform, control of its revenue, control of its supply chain, et cetera. A company that can't even manage good relations with developers for its own consoles is not going to do well developing for another platform. On top of that, there's the learning curve. Nintendo is way behind when it comes to learning the current landscape of games, and complained with the Wii U about the costs of learning to move into the next generation - when really it was making the transition the rest of the industry had made around 2005. Sure, Animal Crossing could port over with relative ease, but as casual as Nintendo's titles may often be, they're not very smartphone compatible.

It's a classic example, but we can look at Sega to see how well Nintendo might do as a software-only house. When the Dreamcast died, aside from a few bright glimmers afterward, Sega's soul flopped right out of its body and fell on the floor. The company did well when it knew its console, its audience (because they controlled it), and knew when it could learn from third party competitors on its own platform (not that Nintendo does the latter). Big lumbering companies of any kind have a tough time turning around or changing course. Add a traditional Japanese management hierarchy and you're not going to be making any big shifts without a lot of creaky gears breaking apart.

You could suggest all sorts of alternatives - Nintendo could have a smartphone branch, or a sub-company dedicated to smartphone games. Or it could buy Blackberry (or someone) and make Nintendo phones with d-pads. But would this really solve their problem? I don't think so. Nintendo needs to become a modern company, but it should do so on its own terms, or fail in the process.

Mike Rose
UK Editor

Twitter: @RaveofRavendale

I'm fairly certain I am the only Nintendo fan out there who actually likes the idea of Nintendo ditching home consoles, and focusing on game development -- at least for this generation. Here are the facts: People buy Nintendo home consoles because they are a little bit quirky, and/or because they love Nintendo's first-party games. Hardly anyone buys a Nintendo console to play third-party games on it (especially if we're talking about the Wii U - there are barely any to speak of!). So what a Nintendo home console is, is a box that plays Nintendo games and thus, you're paying $300 for the appropriate gear to play perhaps two or three games a year.

So the real question is, why wouldn't I want Nintendo to develop games for other platforms? If Nintendo made games for other home consoles I would buy them in a heartbeat, many Nintendo fans would pick up other consoles to buy them, and markets that Nintendo couldn't fish for before (i.e. those players who don't buy Nintendo systems) would also be up for grabs. I don't know if I like the idea of Nintendo jumping on mobile, per se, but ditching home consoles and making games for Xbox One and PS4 instead would be a massively welcome move from my perspective. Of course, Nintendo wouldn't have to drop hardware entirely either - Nintendo still has a strong grip on the handheld side with its 3DS, which means it could stay in hardware manufacturing, and re-enter the home console market whenever it actually has a properly decent idea for the next-next-gen -- or at least, better than "chunky iPad with buttons."

I'm not going to pretend I know how to fix Nintendo right now -- there are already hundreds of people doing that on Twitter -- but rather, this is my own personal preference of where I'd love to see the company go next. Ditching the Wii U is not admitting defeat, and I hope Iwata and co. realize that.

Christian Nutt
Blogs Director

Twitter: @ferricide

It really depends on how you define "best interest."

You'll notice from Iwata's comments that he's not talking about making mobile games, but leveraging mobile users to drive interest in Nintendo's products -- a strategy that worked with Animal Crossing. You can argue this point, but as far as reading tea leaves goes, it suggests the company's readiness to make a leap to mobile game development is near zero.

This is significant. It would not be an easy change for Nintendo. If we look at the evolution of the mobile space so far, it's clear and obvious -- has it been an easy transition for anyone?

In specific, so much of the institutional knowledge, culture, and style of creativity Nintendo engages in is not a good fit for the mobile space in its present form. Now, I think Nintendo would in some way be able to change the form of the mobile space if it were to enter it, but the transition for the company itself would be complex and painful. Its technologies and ways of designing games would both be forced to change enormously in a short span of time -- and I think its culture would inevitably and permanently be altered.

I'd be quite interested to see how Nintendo would tackle mobile games. I do think that much of what Nintendo excels at would fit there, and I do believe the company would innovate in terms of control, game design, business, and more.

But personally, I'm more interested in seeing how the company can preserve the game making craft it so excels at while also continuing as a viable business. And that does not prescribe a certain approach. In other words, it may or may not be mobile games.

Suggesting that Nintendo make mobile games as a silver bullet solution to its woes is a shortsighted oversimplification of the challenges inherent in such a shift. It's easy to be glib and point to successes other companies have had. But are those companies anything like Nintendo? Are their games?

Sometimes a company's best interest is to be torn apart and put together again in a totally new way, offering markedly changed products. But I certainly do not presume to say, as so many do, that this is the path Nintendo must take, and as quickly as possible.

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Michael Joseph
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I agree with Mike and Christian about Nintendo's strengths being their game crafting and their beloved family friendly characters. They rival classic Disney in that regard.

Personally I think people would love to be able to buy Nintendo designed and developed games on their PS# or XB#. But the gated gardens are irresistible.

Richard Urich
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Nintendo would be crazy to sacrifice their strength at hardware innovation. The Wii U was just a stupid mistake, and I have faith Nintendo can learn from it.

The original Wii fit well with games like Wii Sports, and that connects with more than just core gamers that focus on screenshots. The Wii U provides a bulky controller that is complicated to use and makes the system cost a fortune, which obviously isn't going to appeal to a wider audience. The idea might appeal to a serious gamer, but Nintendo is not implementing the graphics and processing required to chase that market.

Axel Cholewa
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See, that's the thing: I've played a lot of Wii Party U lately, and you rarely need the GamePad for that. In fact, you mostly use the remotes, but no remote was included in the SKU, nor were the remotes part of their marketing, but it should have been.

Apparently "Wii" is supposed to be a Nintendo brand now, and the Wii U is supposed to be the new Wii. But a Wii without remotes? To consumers that probably doesn't make a lot of sense (and to me neither). They should've marketed the GamePad (which I love) as an addition to the Wii formular, not as the Wii U's main innovation. Kind of "Wii meets DS". And (as commented by someone else somewhere else) they should've improved motion control and focus on that.

But I do love the second screen and see a lot of potential in it. I still hope that, with the right marketing and a remote in every Wii U SKU, they can turn the tide. I'm not optimistic, though.

Seth Strong
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I agree about the core strengths. I like the Wii U controller concept and I like the games I've played on it. I basically think that with tweaks on all their controllers so that they feel as robust as the competitions', I would have no complaints left.

The component Nintendo needs for people that do not own a Wii U is the faster delivery of the basic library of Nintendo games with the launch of a console. Everybody wants to know there's a Metroid, a Mario, a Mario Kart, a Smash Bros, Zelda, and for many people there are other favorite Nintendo franchises. Super Mario 3D World is awesome. The rest of the titles are coming, and when they do Nintendo needs to connect to those gamers who forgot about Nintendo on the Wii but remember Smash Bros tournaments.

Unlike the well selling Wii, the Wii U isn't much inferior graphics wise and it's as strong as the 360/PS3 era which is going to be fine for their style of gameplay. Nintendo just needs to ride this out and prepare to remind people the Wii U exists when the library of favorites is ready, in my opinion.

warren blyth
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if bulk was the problem with the WiiU's gamepad, it sounds like they just need to release a "gamepad mini".

Maybe about the size of your average cell phone?

(this suddenly seems so very likely!)

evan c
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Are mobile games so bad that everyone keeps goading Nintendo to make them?

Joe Zachery
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Pretty much! If Nintendo would join forces with Apple/Android they would make their gaming side legitimate instantly! It would be the only reason if I was Nintendo to go 2nd party. If I was going to join with someone not currently in the gaming business. Helping Sony or Microsoft will do nothing for you. Joining forces with someone who has their own ocean. Makes you part of their seas! LOL

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PS and Xbox game must be equal as bad because people keep calling for that crossover too.

Benjamin Quintero
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didn't you hear? "mobile" is the new snake oil. cures all financial ailments.

1. make games
2. ???
3. profit and success

Eric Harris
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@ evan c.
You hit the nail on the head. Sega titles have been on the app store for years. Is Sega singing the praises of the mobile platform? No!

Axel Cholewa
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Among Nintendo's hardware, the 3DS is competing against mobile, and while not as successful as hoped, it still does well. I don't see why mobile would fix their problems.

Maybe handheld only would be an option, but abondoning hardware altogether doesn't seem a solution for a hardware manufacturer.

They do know how to make great hardware, they were just unable to convince people that their kind of innovation is worth buying. I doubt that they would have problems making a new console with next gen horse power, but that would mean being less innovative in the field of human-machine-interface. But that's where their core strength was in the past: the SNES controller introduced shoulder buttons, the N64-controller introduced the analog stick and controller vibration, the GameCube brought us analog shoulder buttons, and the Wii made motion controls a thing.

It might just be a problem of scale: once you have a mass audience like with the Wii, you can't make products anymore that differ radically in concept. The Wii was famous for motion controls, so that's where they could have grown.

Jay N
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The Wii U wasn't a random mistake, it was a massive, spectacular failure that everyone, players or developers alike, saw coming over the horizon, and cautioned Nintendo against. The problem is that the company's management team doesn't listen, not to anyone but themselves. The Wii U is the obvious product of such groupthinking.

But Nintendo's recent financial issues isn't the result of just the Wii U-failure, it's the result of decisions that go way back to the Nintendo 64, when the company first started losing touch with third-party developers, and by extension, with the mass market. Every console generation has had one system managing to capture the mass market consumer; the original NES, then (eventually) the Super NES, then the PlayStation, the PlayStation 2, the Wii, and now, tablets and smart phones. An audience that big might sustain a less than stellar product, but without it, that product is often doomed.

When Nintendo started to lose the attention of the mass market with the Wii, they didn't have core third-party developers to fall back on, partly because of the low-end, SD nature of that machine, and they'd been neglecting large amounts of their core IP for a generation, convinced they'd reinvented the wheel with motion control and a balance board, easily disposable once the novelty wears off.

Not realizing this crucial element in the diminishing returns of the Wii during the development of the Wii U, the company's management's refusal to learn from their competitor's strengths and copy them means their current console is less attractive than the competition from the last console generation. Nintendo admitted as much when they reorganized their internal development teams last year, but it's still an open question as to whether or not they can turn the Wii U around to a profit in time to salvage any part of the endeavor.

I wonder how hard it is for anyone in the company to say "No!" to the management at Nintendo. I bet it's not a word they hear often.

Even so, turning to mobile publishing won't save the company in its current form, and if they do go the mobile route, I much rather expect them to partner with an established mobile developer in developing a Nintendo-branded range of phones, than become fully independent of its own hardware.

Playing to their own strengths certainly seems to be preferable, though. Making a Pokémon MMO, for instance, or careful restoration of some of their other forgotten IP, would be highly interesting, even on a touch screen device.

Joe Zachery
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Nintendo relationship with 3rd parties has more to do with their treatment of them before the N64 era. Then the introduction of Sony who played the well treat you better card. By buying some parties off, and giving 3rd parties way more power than Sega, and Nintendo ever did.
They then killed off that audience by totally dropping them like a bad habit. When they stopped supporting the Wii. To focus on the 3DS, and the upcoming Wii U. Their is still a audience for the Wii experience. Just Dance sold over 800k in the US during Dec on the Wii. A console that has been dead for at least 3 years now.

Nintendo's main problem with the Wii U is the jump back into the arms of the people. They went away from during the Wii era. Hardcore gamers! The people who are more likely to buy used games. etc etc. The Wii U should have been the same Blue Ocean the Wii was. Instead they went back red! AKA bad idea!

So more then anything their real mistake is not understanding the relationship they have with consumers. You can't stop providing one with content, and expect them to stay. You can't go back to another group who feel you betrayed them. Nintendo should have stayed casual.

Jay N
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Only a few third-parties are around now that experienced the full weight of Nintendo flexing its position back in the 8-bit era, and of those, most companies like EA and Square Enix don't really hold grudges when there's an opportunity to make a profit.

More than one opinion piece has pointed to the dominance of Nintendo's own games on Nintendo's own platforms, as well as the perceived young age of the audience that these games supposedly attract to the company's consoles, as reasons third-parties shy away from releasing on them, and I think there's some truth to that. At least as to how third-parties gauge the viability of their own products on Nintendo's consoles, if nothing else.

But yes, the universality of Nintendo's output doesn't mesh too well with "hard core", regardless of what you see that as. Even Sega knew how to leverage that fact, back in the day. Nintendo has never really seemed to be that concerned with this aspect. Maybe it should be.

E Zachary Knight
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I disagree with Mike Rose, and pretty much everyone else, suggesting the Nintendo go 3rd party for this or any generation. Mike Rose explains exactly why.

"People buy Nintendo home consoles ... because they love Nintendo's first-party games. "

If you take the games away from Nintendo hardware, then you destroy the biggest and most important reason for buying the hardware. Even if Nintendo planned to do it with only one generation, it would spell doom for their hardware business.

If people could get Nintendo games on any other hardware, then they will be conditioned to expect those games on that hardware in perpetuity. There would be no going back at all.

Jennis Kartens
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Maybe a revision of the Wii U would be the best choice.

I don't think the mobile(phone)-space is good for Nintendo since it is very limited in possibilities (touch-input is the only choice. And that is not really the best) and a lot of problems as well as high inconsitency across devices which all are factors that are the contrary to Nintendos software quality (and hardware in some areas).

Recently I got my 3DS out again and holy f... was I impressed by it's controls and speed, while I constantly want to throw every touchscreen-phone agains the wall for being unresponsive or bugged.

I think Nintendo needs their own hardware to a point as a solid base for its products. Though it either needs to be competitive really or it needs to fit in into gaps neither the mobile nor the core market products can fill to full satisfaction (imo their mobile devices already do, but it's inconvenient to have more as one...)

warren blyth
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Speaking of revising the WiiU:
I'm captivated by the idea all Nintendo needs to do (to revitalize WiiU) is release a GamePad mini with multitouch (same res, but longer battery life). ie, a cellphone sized gamepad.

Then they could directly show the world what touch screen only Nintendo classics would be like, and why you really want those joysticks and buttons around the edge.

Adam Merkel
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One option Nintendo can try is to let some first-party developers owned by Nintendo, say HAL Labs, Intelligent Systems, and Platinum Games, have the option of going multi-platform with some of their games. They would still be published through Nintendo however, thus Nintendo would get a cut of the profits that way, and it may reveal some new information about what past, current, and future audiences are looking for out of Nintendo.

Although, I will say this: Without a doubt, the easiest profits they can make on mobile development is a Pokemon MMO. Many fans have been waiting for one for years now, even if it means going back to 2D and scaling back the current Pokemon list to one of the previous generations.

Luke Ambrogio
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I honestly think that the only thing necessary and really the only way to save the Wii U and improve the 3DS is to open up the platform. By improving the relationship with devs, especially indies and dropping the barrier to entry on the platform, people will come.

Ultimately content is king and people have a tendency to look at quantity as much as quality. The closer their e-shops resemble Steam, App Store or Google Play the more people will buy.

Plus if I were Nintendo I would pay for publishers to develop for my platform, or port them myself...

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I believe its a two part solution the first like you said eShop needs to be more like the app store services, and second MiiVerse needs to be figured into that equation with more options for the user.

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I have a question. Why does gaming hardware manufactures make only one SKU or one style device, while companies like Apple make several devices that have appeal to the middle and high end markets? If Nintendo was to create another device, Say a more powerful device without a game pad controller, why would they have to kill of the last device? Could not the two devices coexist? It kinda like the 2DS / 3DS situation. One keeps the 3D the other does not, but it still plays the same games has the same functions. If the Wii U problem is that it has a Gamepad, and the best thing to do is to make one without it and Miiverse; why not just circumvent that with device 2 and let the industry use that extra Gig of Ram on what ever they wanted? Sell the same games and disable the Gamepad functions on the simpler more powerful device. The let the market choose which one it wants.

I prefer the Gamepad, but whatever. Most gamers just voted with their thoughts and their wallets that they prefer graphical upgrades and nothing more.

warren blyth
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I think that makes more sense for PS4 or Xbone, since they are striving to do so much in your living room. it makes sense to offer high end options for prosumer types.

but Nintendo sees gaming hardware as "toys for kids." and it doesn't make sense to make ritzy expensive options for kids.

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Nintendo doesn't see Games for kids. The see games for everyone. Their problem is they do not have a mature division that only makes mature games. They may have to pull a Disney and buy a Miramax like company and let them publish mature games under their own name.

Yes Nintendo needs to advertise more, they have those direct advertisements. Can't see why they would waste it just being on Youtube when they could just do a little cut and paste and advertise both games coming to Wii U 2/3DS and their YouTube channel for more information all in one shot. What is wrong with Cartoon Network at the peek hours of the day, or with their alternate personalities like Adult Swim and Toonami. I wouldn't let the Bayonetta 2 direct commercials sit on just YouTube if I knew those spaces where there and I knew that Bayonetta 2 was a committed product somewhere in the Wii U's future. Cut, paste and buy ads spots.

When Iwata says they underestimated the market I think he tends to mean that the market they advertised to this holiday season didn't go out and buy the system and the games like he thought they would. So the market they spent building on the Wii is not upgrading, or its gone. I'm sure that would have him worried since the AAA game makers are not dedicating time to that market anymore as well.

That puts the Wii U right back into competition in the red ocean, because the only players that bought one where the hardcore players. Given your one percent rule, the core player that bought a Wii U most likely bought a PS4 and or and Xbox One which can explain why the sales numbers sit a just about even across the board going into this year. The only big problem Nintendo had was having to convince the core player for a year that the Wii U was valuable by placing the right types of games on it. Sony nor Microsoft have this problem because third parties are happy to port their game across the two platforms and let the chips fall where they may. It equal money to them either way.

Luis Alis
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If I was Nintendo, I would make a Nintendo DS Mobile Phone with a digital store. This way you can preserve your company's toymaker hardware pride, monetize your huge back catalogue and fight Apple and Android at the same time. You would only need to support Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp and a few more basic apps in order to be competitive, as most people don't go beyond those.

Mark Kilborn
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Nintendo don't need to go mobile. That's a recipe for disaster. And to squander their IPs as a third party publisher would be foolish. I'm a huge Nintendo fan, I have zero regrets over my purchase of the Wii U, but I do see that they've stumbled spectacularly here.

I feel they need to take some pages out of Sony's PS4 playbook:

Create a powerful machine
Give it a very appealing price point
Make developers' lives as easy as possible
- Improve quality of communication
- Improve dev tools
- Use an architecture that's similar to Xbone/PS4 to make porting easy
- Be easy going with fees per disc and that kind of stuff
Get their online *$#@ together
- Parity with XBL (on 360) should be the low bar here
Secure some killer exclusives. Yes, pay for them if you must
Push IPs you know people want: launch with Zelda, Metroid, Mario
Put the customer first
Eliminate controller fragmentation/confusion (gamepad vs. remotes vs. classic controller pro)
Get someone to help with their marketing efforts, which are meh lately

WHAT they need to do is very easy to figure out. It's just that they're a giant ship, and turning a giant ship is not easy and takes time. Will they turn fast enough to avoid an iceberg? We will see. But the first step is getting the captain to spin the wheel. Your move, Iwata.

Wylie Garvin
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I agree with Mark's comments here (and also with Kris Graft). Nintendo switching over to mobile and abandoning their old market is a recipe for suicide. What they need to do is right the ship. They need to win back their loyal hardcore audience and 3rd-party developers, but they can't do that by killing the Wii U prematurely. They need to improve the value of their Wii U offering: Get more titles on it (especially exclusive 1st-party titles that players can't get anywhere else), improve the online offering, lower barriers to entry for 3rd-party devs, and fix the marketing problems. It will be several years before they can launch _new_ hardware to replace the Wii U, in the meantime they need to stay committed to the platform and to their loyal players who bought into it.

warren blyth
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totally agree that going mobile would be suicide.

"Create a powerful machine"
you lost me with this, Mark. I feel Nintendo has always looked for hardware they can get cheap first, then forced games onto it. I don't think Nintendo sees powerful hardware as a differentiator when it comes to game design.

"Get someone to help with their marketing efforts, which are meh lately"
won me back with this. wtf happened to their marketing?

Mark Kilborn
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On the hardware front, that's been a losing case from them with a lot of 3rd party devs. Why port big AAA title to sub-par hardware? Why would I want my game to look significantly worse then it does on competing machines?

Whether they shoot for the stars with power or not, at least making the architecture more consistent with other platforms would be a big help. Anything they can do to smooth the road for 3rd parties would be a benefit to them.

Jeff Postma
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I think that going mobile is a bad idea. My friends and associates aren't buying the Wii U because they don't care about Mario or most of Nintendo's franchises enough. They wouldn't buy them even if they came out on their PS4 or iPhones. I don't really know what else they could do besides make even better and more fresh games. Mario 3D World was superb and my favorite game from last year. None of my friends want to play it because it's another Mario game.

Benjamin Quintero
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I'd love to see Nintendo do an experiment and release Doki Doki Panic 3D (but it's actually a reskinned Mario 3D). =) #mindblown

Chris Hendricks
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If Nintendo went to mobile, wouldn't they be just be competing with the 3DS, which is actually profitable?

Benjamin Quintero
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Shhhhh!!! the Apple zombies can smell brains. stop thinking!

Benjamin Quintero
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The whole Nintendo-go-mobile movement is such an amateur armchair CEO suggestion, it baffles me that "put Mario on iPhone" has gained such momentum. Whatever that vision is that people have in their heads about a bigger and better Nintendo that gives up on hardware and just makes games for everyone else sounds terrible to me.

Nintendo itself is a brand; an island unto itself. If Disney were to close it's theme parks and sell it's networks and become nothing but a content creator for other networks, I wonder if that would make them stronger or lesser of a brand. Nintendo owns the cow, the milk, the whole damn farm. It escapes me how anyone would willingly give it all up to have to pay licensing fees, accept a percentage of profits, and have to haggle and negotiate over profit shares and marketing space with platform holders when they own their own. If Halo and Mario 3D Next shipped on the same day, which one do you think would show up on the front page of Xbox dashboard? I would kill to have my own platform rather than deal with the game development food chain.

You want to own, not rent; that is where the money is. Valve knew this, and that's why they are making money off of other people's hard work instead of sweating over whether Half-Life 3 will make them enough money to survive then next dev cycle. Come on people, let's all put our logical hats on instead selfishly begging Nintendo to self-destruct because we have a Candy Crush addiction; they might actually take you up on that offer and you'd have yourself to blame when it all goes to hell.

They absolutely could leverage mobile with new IP, then sell sequels to the successful titles as console exclusives. It would be an easy bait and switch for them. Adding companion Apps to their console games might even be possible, but exiting the hardware game is just panicked knee jerking.

Michael Joseph
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So in your mind, Nintendo should make the hardware business work or go bankrupt and let the creditors sell off their IP? Failure is not an option. That's a pretty hardline stance. And perhaps if they took the view that winning the hardware battle was vital to their continued success then the Wii U would have been a better product.

Going 3rd party can be beneficial to Nintendo. It gets more eyeballs on their IP. Exclusive titles make a lot of sense when everyone is buying your console, but when many gamers are now choosing either a PS, or XB or Nintendo, the strength and value of their IP starts to diminish. Their brands start to lose value.

Already there are growing number of kids who don't have as fond a view of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and other Nintendo characters as older gamers do. Why? Because they can't play those games because parents chose to invest in one system not 2 or 3 or more.

Bob Charone
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"Already there are growing number of kids who don't have as fond a view of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong and other Nintendo characters as older gamers do."

Maybe that is true in the 90s. Today no kid play those... ask any kid what there favourite Mario game is, and prepare to feel depression!

Bob Johnson
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A ton of kids played Mario this past generation. The Wii sold like hotcakes and Mario Kart and SMB sold 25+ million copies each.

And then we had the DS which sold even better than the Wii which also resulted Mario Kart DS and SMB DS selling similarly large numbers of copies.

Benjamin Quintero
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Nintendo's problem is the message, not the hardware. It's the lack of games, not the hardware. It's the DIY network infrastructure, not the hardware. It's the iron fist in which they want to govern social media and user videos and content, not the hardware. WiiU could have been a bigger success, but Nintendo got in it's own way. Moving to another platform is not going to fix that; no matter how much you think of it as the silver bullet.

Nintendo is the only platform that has tried something different with motion controls and dedicated streaming game pad. The other platforms have been following up with a "me too" attitude ever since. I wonder if cross play, Kinect, rumble controllers, speakers in the controller, and many other things we take for granted would even be in the gaming vernacular if it were not for Nintendo. Dear God, I hope they never leave hardware; I'd hate to see where we don't go in 10 years without them.

You talk like this is Nintendo's first failure when the reality is that they are averaging about 50:50 and somehow still managed to bank what they have. This loss amounts to about 2% of their cash reserves so far. For guys like you and me, 2% means less steaks and more noodles for a few weeks not, "OMG let's sell the house, the car, and move into the alley downtown!!" =) I'm not saying that it doesn't hurt to report a loss, but they aren't stupid people. Dumb luck does not make the kind of money they have.

Techy people for some reason always want to be damn near falling off the bleeding edge, and everything else is just dumb and old. Nintendo is slow to react but they will make the changes that they need in due time. There's always tomorrow when you have the money to sit and be logical about your life choices. Nintendo has always been the wild card, but wild cars aren't always winners; they win big and lose big, but they do it on their own terms. If you want shotgun software development then buy Microsoft products, they have Halo on just about every platform and some that don't even exist and still sold a fraction of Mario Kart 7.

The WiiU will not sink Nintendo. They have at least 2 more tries before things get dangerous for them. One of those will likely be another handheld, possibly a phone-DS cross over. The other will probably be a new home console in 2-5 years, depending on what they do now to turn things around for the WiiU. One or both may turn out to be huge success or huge failure. We won't know until it happens.

Luis Alis
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If I remember well, Mario Galaxy and the likes were adored by the critics but weren't smash hits as far as sales go. So I think the kids were playing some other games in their Wiis.

Johan Pozzi
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I don't think Nintendo needs to start making mobile games. Apart from the risk and the major change that would suppose for the company, they shouldn't be so desperate to make such a move. They still have money to go, a shipped system with some flaws and a lot of users. I think the Wii U still has a lot of room for improvement, and Nintendo should tick all the checkboxes (more big games, better online infraestructure, better development tools and communication...) before moving into something new, even if they're already playing a catch up game (in regards to the PS4,XBO and third parties).

For the people comparing the Wii U to the Dreamcast, I think the situation is very different. Sega was almost broke when they released the Dreamcast and actually their console had a very good start in the USA and Europe. What killed it finally was Sega's inability to financially handle it, and bad reputation carried over from the Saturn days opposed to the huge popularity of the Playstation and the expectation it built for the PS2. I think the Wii U could be Nintendo's Saturn if they don't manage the situation well.

That said, I don't know what Nintendo is finally going to do but I think it is positive that they discuss possible bussiness structures, depending on what happens they may not want to improvise in the future.

Bob Johnson
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Nintendo buys EA. Kills 2 birds with 1 stone. Nintendo gets a breadth of new IP to help them fill holes in their lineup, attract core gamers and in turn attract 3rd parties again.

And EA starts releasing polished games less frequently.

Bob Charone
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At the rate Nintendo is losing cash, they would run out of money before the deal is even complete!

Bob Johnson
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Nintendo has a ton of cash what are you talking about? They could lose $300 million a year for 10 years and still buy EA in cash.

Not that I think it will happen. There would probably be a bidding war or some anti-trust problem and of course Nintendo would never spend the cash to acquire EA and I'm not sure EA is worth what it is selling for right now. Plus the whole messy process of integrating one large company into another.

But it makes a ton more sense than Nintendo going mobile to solve their sputtering Wii U console problem.

Bob Charone
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Since you didn't read the link I'll write it here:

EA price: 7.5 billion
Nintendo cash: 9 billion

Bob Johnson
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I didn't read it because I know the numbers. Your numbers are roughly correct and only confirm the picture I was painting.

warren blyth
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methinks ditching proprietary hardware so you can join other people's walled gardens is a bizarre suggestion.

my armchair solution: the best thing Nintendo could do is go whole hog at the NFC toy angle. Make it known that from now on, ALL dlc content on WiiU will be tied to a toy (dongle), from mariokart to DKCRTorpical Freeze to X to bayonetta2 and onward.

Spread the message that you'll know if a house has a wiiU, because it'll have dozens of little toys all over the tv area. Make it seem kind of sad that PS4 and Xbone DLC have no physical representation. Make a strong push away from digital downloads towards retail.
i think that'd be the kind of crazy ivan that would get people excited again, quickly.

+ picture a silly warioware game that you need to play with the NFC toy(s) balanced on the controller. Which goes on to encourage players to balance a dozen different toys on the gamepad border and involve them in mini game maneuvers. etc.

+ picture smash bros where you can buy every single trophy toy that they give you inside the game. if you earn the tropy in game, and have it in real life, then you can unlock a new feature (music track. concept art. etc).

+ picture an fzero game where the gamepad IS the car, and you balance the part upgrade you want for your racer on it's shell. And/or swap them out during laps. have a toy that offers the battery recharge, one that offers spin attacks, and another that offers extra boosts. (and of course, the touch screen could be the car engine, letting you rewire and transfer power around like a podracer).

+ message that playing with little nintendo toy friends is a new form of local multiplayer. Nintendo hates networked gaming right? So keep making local 2 player and 4 split screen games - but let the players plug in mario and kid icarus and zelda to play as those other screens if no one else is home.

(secondary armchair solution: release a gamepad mini, that's about the size of a smartphone, and has multitouch. but i'd bet this is gonna happen already)

Cordero W
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Nintendo is fine. Same thing, different cycle.

Leon T
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Going mobile would only be a short term solution. A log term solution would be to invest in small and talented developers now. Nintendo could fund a lot of exclusive games from some small to mid size teams for their consoles. Even if they can't save the Wii U at this point it would go a long way to earn them some good will. Could also help fill the gaps in their lineup that third party publishers will not fill.

Nintendo also needs to humble itself and realize they are not the only game company that have great ideas. They can learn a lot from others in the industry and even expand on the ideas of others. The Pokemon NFC game they released for the Wii U was shameful. So much more could have been done with the Pokemon brand and not having it for the 3DS as well was just stupid. A NFC game that used all of Nintendo's IPs similar to Skylanders or DI would have also been great.... Sony's Vita remote play and Playstation Now are other things Nintendo could learn something from. Sure Nintendo was first to connect a handheld console to a home console but Sony has expanded that idea and I believe Nintendo can benefit from Sony has done.

Chris Melby
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I agree with much of what you say, but I have one comment. The Vita's remote play only really works well locally and from where I stand, it came off as more of Sony's take on the Wii U's controller.

Leon T
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I wouldn't put it past Sony. the PSP could do the same thing with the PS3 though. I just think it would be nice if the 3DS could do the same thing at least locally. A 3DS player on the Wii U is also welcomed.

SD Marlow
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Sell Nintendo-skinned android micro-console for $150 with modern SNES controller and pre-installed catalog of Nintendo games... Go!

Peter Eisenmann
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It wouldn't necessarily need Android. Put an extremely basic OS on it, buy out the best emulator makers out there, and finally (and most important): Brutally hunt down and destroy all sites offering free ROMs.
The question is, how would the public see this last step.

Michel Desjardins
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No. Nintendo should stay focus to console gaming, their core business. Mobile market is getting saturated with a lot of junk, and they should not want to be associated with that (branding protection). Quality is mainly what attract people to console gaming (subconsciously). On a side note: Wii u as a mistake, let's move on.

Mike Kasprzak
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I can't be the only mobile dev that thinks mobile sucks?

Bob Fox
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Nintendo has too much on their plate, they are trying to do too much and they are suffering. There value as a company is games and I think they need to break free from the exclusive platform mindset and dip their toes in the PC space. It'd be great if someone they tried to kickstart a new F-zero or Starfox for PC/Their system

Fans would be all over it in a second. They are mired in their traditions in an age of opportunity. They need to see serving their customers where they are as the goal. Not trying to take their IP's hostage to sell their main console. They need to diversify. They got Mario, Zelda and brawl to sell their console. F-Zero and Starfox they should send out a test balloon via kickstarter on PC.

Eric Harris
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Mobile is awful. Mobile is a platform that treats games as an afterthought. If I had the choice between Wii U and a cellphone game, I would go with the Wii U.