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Nintendo's expansion plans - for a smartphone app and for China, too

Nintendo's expansion plans - for a smartphone app and for China, too

November 11, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

Nintendo doesn't want to attack the Chinese market the same way as Microsoft has, with its release of the high-powered, expensive Xbox One console in the territory.

Says company president Satoru Iwata, "I do not think that our old approach would be successful in new markets."

"... we are currently researching what would be best for us," says Iwata, noting that it is now legal to launch consoles in the country -- meaning that some form of Nintendo-manufactured device is still likely.

Sony has also revealed that it plans to go after the Chinese market.

"We believe that our new approach for new markets will be based on how we can bring new things to these markets while making connections with new consumers through smart devices, rather than merely localizing the same things that we offer in developed nations," Iwata says.

No smartphone games, but an app is coming

Nintendo is very keen on "making connections" using smartphones; however, its president maintains that Nintendo will not make smartphone games. "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,'" he says.

To that end, the company is preparing an app which will use user-generated Mii characters on smartphones: "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," Iwata says.

The company has seen success with its Tomodachi Life franchise in both Japan and the West; the game puts Miis into humorous situations (some of which weren't so funny to everyone.) However, even the very light "play" aspects of Tomodachi Life mean that it's very unlikely that Nintendo would consider releasing it on phones. Iwata will only refer to an "application," not a game:

"When Nintendo first releases its application for smart devices, I believe that many people will be interested in it enough to try it. ... We are positive that we can make a stronger bond with our consumers using Mii, and that our consumers will enjoy and activate the application from time to time if such an application is created, but we would like to release it next year, instead of this year," Iwata says.

The company has already created a mobile-friendly version of its Mario Kart TV community site, as well as its Miiverse social network, which spans the Wii U and 3DS.

The full Q&A is a hefty but interesting read. Gamasutra has also broken out stories from it on the company's plans for its Amiibo figure platform, its attitude toward partnerships and acquisitions, and its policies on region-locking games.

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