Nintendo announces smartphone gaming push, upcoming ‘NX’ console [update]

Update (18 March): Although users may not yet be reaping the benefits of Nintendo’s move into smartphone gaming, it’s share price sure as hell is. Up 21% since the announcement according to Bloomberg, the company is now enjoying its best run since its initial decline in 2007. Since then, the share price has seen a near 80% fall.

There’s been plenty of news today for Nintendo fans to smile about, as the Japanese gaming company continues on its road to recovery.

In a business and capital alliance announcement, the company has announced that it will partner with developer DeNA to “jointly develop and operate gaming applications for smart devices in global markets.”

Nintendo to embrace smartphone gaming with DeNA partnership

That’s right, Nintendo is actually dipping its toe into the smartphone gaming pool.

“Needless to say, now that we are challenging ourselves in this new business area, we hope that hundreds of millions of people will use and enjoy these products,” notes company CEO and president Satoru Iwata.

This is quite a turnaround for a company that explicitly denied that it would be bringing games to smart devices, a claim made by Nikkei over a year ago now. Hilariously, it looks like the report may have had some backbone after all.

DeNA itself is a Japanese-based mobile gaming phenomenon, which Nintendo now owns a 10% stake. It’s a smart move considering mobile games’ migration to the smartphone, thanks to an increase in processing power, the ubiquity of the platform and the financial pressures Nintendo itself is facing.

New Nintendo 3DS XL stock

How will this affect the rampant sales of the new 3DS range?

“Smart devices have the widest reach and, thus, have the strongest potential for us to be able to connect with the largest number of consumers,” explained Iwata.

“We aim to construct a bridge between smart devices and dedicated video game hardware that connects consumers to our dedicated video game systems.”

But don’t for one moment think its all doom and gloom for console gamers.

There’s a new Nintendo console coming, folks

Iwata has whipped out the carrot-on-a-stick with this seemingly more important announcement:

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 codename “NX.” It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year.

That’s right. The Nintendo Wii U will not be the company’s final console.

Although we can hardly begin to speculate, we could see the Nintendo NX‘s launch before the likes of the next PlayStation and Xbox, perhaps giving Nintendo an early advantage in the console wars.

Wii U+

The Wii U was not nearly as successful as its predecessor. Will the NX suffer its own far?

The real question perhaps is if the NX will focus on graphics and AAA titles like its American and Japanese rivals, or continue with the more family/social approach to gaming that laid the foundation for the Wii series.

We’ve heard mutterings from the likes of KitGuru that AMD is developing a new SoC for gaming consoles. Both the Xbox One and PS4 are powered by AMD silicon. Could we see another console powered by the silicon company?

Iwata’s comments suggest that the machine is a few years away yet, but regardless, we’ll at least get a glimpse into Nintendo’s console gaming future in the next year. As for smartphone gaming? No timeframe has been given, but expect consumers to feel the effects of this move sooner rather than later.

Feature image: nubobo via Flickr

Andy Walker, former editor


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