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Nintendo courting smartphone developers to boost Wii U sales
News reported by 
Editor-in-chief
May 06, 2013, 03:28:37
 
What do you think? Will smartphone developers be interested? Can these kinds of apps drive consoles sales? It certainly couldn't hurt to get some more games on the system.

The game console and software maker has offered professional-use conversion software to application developers so they can produce smartphone games that can be played on Wii U, a struggling home video game console that helped widen the firmís operating loss in fiscal 2012.

Nintendo hopes smartphone software will help spur console sales, which will in turn lead to an increase in popular game titles for them, the sources said.



Source: Japan Times

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Posted: 05/06/13, 03:28:37  - Edited by 
 on: 05/06/13, 03:28:30    
 
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@Simbabbad

Why define the entire smartphone market based on a certain type of game? You wouldn't define the PC as a platform based solely on Facebook games. Smartphones and PCs are quite similar. There's a lot of people who want to play games on them just to kill time. There's a lot of people who dislike the platform because the input isn't designed specifically for gaming. But there's also people who like what smartphones offer that dedicated handhelds don't. And, like the PC, so many people have smartphones that even if these people are a small percentage, they still make up a big market. Do you think the PC isn't a viable market?


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:02:53  - Edited by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:20:02
Personally, I've always thought Nintendo should get into the phone market by bringing back the Game Boy line as a series of smartphones. They wouldn't even need to be cutting edge. Just say "Here's a smartphone with a D-pad that you can play Super Mario on" and I think a market would show up immediately.

But that's off topic.

I'm not sure how much of a premium converted phone games will add to the Wii U. It won't hurt. But the eShop is doing ok already, imho. It's really retail where the Wii U is struggling. So I'd assume moving resources to secure some retail games would make more sense. Yeah, no one with a PS3 is going to buy a Wii U just to play games they can already get on the PS3, but having the "right" games adds to the prestige of the Wii U and probably helps send the right signal to the market that Nintendo knows what they're doing. And I do think that could lead to more sales down the road a bit, after the question mark stops hanging over the Wii U's head.

Really, though, the best use of financial resources is probably going to be on internal development at this point. We're sorta locked in to this "Nintendo Goes It's Own Way" approach at this point. Time to just make the best of it.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:34:37  - Edited by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:35:43
@Oldmanwinter But see, I don't think that they are pulling that money "out of thin air" otherwise they would be doing better as businesses overall. I think what is more accurate is that they started sliding in the console and handheld arenas and saw smartphones as a way to try to stay afloat, so they made a bit of a small shift in priorities. Which is fair enough, but it's possibly just hastening the decline of the console and handheld arenas in some ways. 3rd parties can get away with that, but Nintendo has more at stake with their own hardware, so I doubt they would be as eager to do anything that could add to that decline. If anything I see them putting a focus on reinvigorating those arenas, as they did with the Wii and DS. That might have been lightning in a bottle, but that's where I see Nintendo focusing, and yeah, shifting a bit to smartphones could take away from that. Potentially. How much is debatable, but as I said above, I see them as marketing their hardware as the only place to get Nintendo games, and that would naturally be important to them on some level if they want to continue to see strong hardware sales.

If anything I'd see Nintendo trying to partner up with a phone company and release their own phone before just jumping in and putting their games on someone else's hardware.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:45:27  - Edited by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:46:56
@Zero

I don't think we really know anything close to enough about EA, Square and Capcom's inner workings to know whether what you're saying is true or not. Maybe they shifted to smartphones and it hasn't helped their overall picture as much as they hoped or maybe its keeping them from losing even more money overall. There's way too many moving parts here to really speculate without insider knowledge or journalism dedicated to the question. I haven't seen that kind of journalism.

I do think we have enough data to say that the smartphone market is viable and presents substantial opportunities for video game companies, but how a specific company should address that market is too complicated a question for a message board.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 17:59:09
But the only data we have is relative. "Our premium games do better than the freemium ones". "Fastest growing segment". The companies are only willing to give us useless data, and really, whenever a company brags about "fast growth", it's usually because the actual numbers aren't brag-worthy.

The lack of info is pretty annoying for armchair CEOs (and those who have to deal with them).


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 18:11:01  - Edited by 
 on: 05/07/13, 18:11:55
@Jargon That's true enough, but I think it is clear that something has been happening to traditional publisher / developers and a lot of them are struggling to make ends meet, and smartphone development is often presented as the way that they should clearly go to survive. If the console and handheld markets are unhealthy overall though, that's an issue that Nintendo would probably have a different approach to than others.

I think the 3DS has been showing lately though that the handheld market is still pretty viable, and when you look at the fact that Animal Crossing on 3DS has sold a few million copies in Japan at $40ish? a pop, that's the kind of thing that Nintendo isn't going to be in a rush to consider a relic of the past. I think they definitely need to start looking more at Steam and smartphones and learn some things about distribution and pricing, but I'm pretty confident that they will try to pull that success into their own world, instead of the reverse. At least for now. Hence talk of courting smartphone developers for Wii U development, which probably won't change the Wii U's position anytime soon, but can be considered some kind of attempt by Nintendo to bring the success of smartphones to their products.

We're in a weird time for consoles with the Wii U out with a slow start and the PS3 / 360 kind of on their last legs, I'd expect some kind of boost in the console world within the next few years as well. Although, as much as I hate to say it, it probably won't come from an uber successful Wii U. And there doesn't seem to be as much hype over Sony and Microsoft's next machines either. So maybe consoles are in a bit of trouble. But when you look at a company who twice turned fate around (video game crash of the 80s, their own console woes with the N64 / Gamecube) then I kind of see them as a company willing to stick at it for a reason. I'm not even saying that I'm confident that they will succeed in this this time around, just that I think this will be their path.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 18:13:21
I think it's kind of silly to think that there's one right answer here. Nintendo could probably go to smartphones and make tons of money or keep their traditional model and make tons of money or do something in between and make tons of money. They would just have to do it right, in all cases. If the 3DS continues to perform as well as it has that doesn't mean that the idea of them going to smartphones was necessarily a terrible one.

As far as something in between, I do wonder if Nintendo formed a division dedicated to putting only the more casual games that haven't sold the way they did on the DS (Brain Age, Nintendogs, etc.) on smartphones without ever using their more traditional titles, if they might make more money off those titles without the average consumer even considering that 3DS was no longer the place for Mario and Zelda. But that's not to say that keeping those games on 3DS and just making less money off them isn't also a good strategy, or maybe even abandoning them for other stuff.

But here I am addressing the question I was specifically avoiding. Ugh.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 18:43:55  - Edited by 
 on: 05/07/13, 18:44:44
Seems like this would be better suited for the 3DS, or at least do both.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 20:03:28
I suspect that they are doing it on 3DS as well, but that this public statement was more to try to qualm the fears of shareholders who are worried about the Wii U specifically.


Posted by 
 on: 05/07/13, 20:13:18
@Zero

"But see, I don't think that they are pulling that money "out of thin air" otherwise they would be doing better as businesses overall. I think what is more accurate is that they started sliding in the console and handheld arenas and saw smartphones as a way to try to stay afloat, so they made a bit of a small shift in priorities."

You have no way to even begin to substantiate this. You and I have absolutely no idea what EA spends their money on, what all of their revenue streams are, how their spending vs profit is broken down per category they produce in or any of the other million variables you would need to figure this out. There is literally no way to back this up, it's 100% pure speculation on your part. What isn't speculation is the factual growth year over year in revenue from digital products sold on tablets and smartphones, which like I linked on the last page is now around a quarter billion a year and growing at like 76% year over year. Why don't we talk about the actual trends we have numbers on instead of baseless speculation.

"Which is fair enough, but it's possibly just hastening the decline of the console and handheld arenas in some ways. 3rd parties can get away with that, but Nintendo has more at stake with their own hardware, so I doubt they would be as eager to do anything that could add to that decline. If anything I see them putting a focus on reinvigorating those arenas, as they did with the Wii and DS. That might have been lightning in a bottle, but that's where I see Nintendo focusing, and yeah, shifting a bit to smartphones could take away from that. Potentially. How much is debatable, but as I said above, I see them as marketing their hardware as the only place to get Nintendo games, and that would naturally be important to them on some level if they want to continue to see strong hardware sales."

I've never argued that Nintendo makes a lot of money off of hardware and selling that hardware in important. You keep bringing this up like I'm debating the point with you. I'm not. I also realize that selling software that can't be had elsewhere is the reason they sell the hardware. I get it.

What I was saying, and this is just my opinion, is that I really don't see how Nintendo doing what Square does and release 20 year old ports for the same price they sell them for on Wii Ware (or more, Square is getting away with nearly $20 a pop for ports of games like FFII, albeit the DS version) is in any way going to affect a consumer and why or why not they buy a Wii U or 3DS. Honestly I think it's a silly argument, unless you are of the opinion people are rushing out in droves to buy a Wii U to pay to play ports of 20 year old games. They aren't.

I don't really care if Nintendo ever does this, however it very factually is a goldmine. Square and other major publishers with good classic backlogs are proving this over and over again.

So in short I don't disagree with what you keep telling me Nintendo is doing or why they are doing it. You are right. Where you are wrong is the absurd circular logic you are using to convince yourself that the smartphone and tablet markets are somehow nonviable for someone like Nintendo to make money on without damaging the appeal of their new consoles. I really truly think that's just a silly, silly argument.

"If anything I'd see Nintendo trying to partner up with a phone company and release their own phone before just jumping in and putting their games on someone else's hardware."

I've been saying this for years, I agree.

@Guillaume

Yeah. Great point except for the fact I actually posted what the year over year growth was in millions, listed as a source of revenue per quarter dating back to the end of 2011. It also compared total revenue year over year per category, and what percent it makes up of EA's total revenue.

Other than that you make an excellent point.

Here, I'll actually post the graph in this thread if you aren't going to click links and then comment on what they supposedly have to say.



Posted by 
 on: 05/08/13, 01:32:24
I'd be totally down with a Nintendo smart phone. I even crafted a basic and obvious mock-up!



The game controller area could be thin and stored on the inside (perhaps a sort of soft rubber-ish material on the bottom for comfort?) and pop up with the press of a button. Or rather, slide out all smooth and sleek-style. I'm no artist, so it just looks like squares, but I think you get the idea. Touch screen, form-factor of a regular smart phone, with all the features of a proper handheld.


Posted by 
 on: 05/08/13, 01:55:31
@Xbob42

What about a smartphone that is just a touch screen, like an IPhone, but also doubled as the top half of a DS. You could connect it to the bottom half whenever you want and turn it into a handheld device, but could leave the bottom half at home when you didn't want something bulky or could store it away in your backpack or purse until you wanted to game with buttons.


Posted by 
 on: 05/08/13, 02:53:50
@Jargon Cause they already make those and not enough games support them! It has to be built in! It wouldn't be any more bulky because the innards wouldn't have to take up 100% of the space inside!


Posted by 
 on: 05/08/13, 02:57:40
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