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Do you think Nintendo COULD successfully transition its properties to a phone? [roundtable]
I was just reading another goddamn financial analyst article about how Nintendo still refuses to put their franchises on smartphones and tablets (except for that Pokemon rhythm thing), and it got me thinking. How many of Nintendo's franchises WOULD smoothly transition over to a tilt/touch-based format? Would Mario lose his magic if all of the levels were auto-scrolling? Would F-Zero still be F-Zero with tilt control and automatic acceleration (that's rhetorical, since automatic acceleration should, OF COURSE, be a standard feature on arcade racing games by now)?

Or could Nintendo work their design magic and successfully bring these franchises to mobile platforms? At the Squeenix premium?

Let's ignore the possibility of virtual pads and buttons, since, after trying Zenonia 4, I would like to forget that they exist altogether.

Wario Ware would, of course, be a shoe-in, since one could say that it was the precursor to many mobile game designs. Pokemon would work, as well. Nintendo could probably also somehow leverage their Wii Sports experience. And most of their puzzlers and downloadable titles would work. But I can't really see the Metroid magic being preserved in a Morph Ball Labyrinth game. (That said, Tilt'n'Tumble would obviously be a great fit.)

This discussion is purely speculative.

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Posted: 09/10/12, 20:10:22  - Edited by 
 on: 09/10/12, 20:32:00
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To be honest, I don't think Nintendo will ever do such a thing. It's pretty clear that they don't like smartphones, not to mention the "alone-together" speech Iwata gave in Nintendo Direct, a couple of months ago.

But just for the fun of it, I think the Kirby Air Ride series would fit the tablet controls perfectly. You would tilt the smartphone to steer and use the touchscreen as the one single button the game needs, that could be used in pretty much whatever position of the screen you could prefer. Also, the achievements,, feature the series already has, would make it fit in perfectly in the iPhone/Android games purpose: to consume your time by making you do inumerous tasks that involve playing the same mode of the game over and over in order to achieve cool things, like unlockables.

Also, Wario Ware would, indeed, also be a perfect fit in the smartphone market.
Posted: 09/10/12, 20:33:57
The following games could work on a Smartphone (just to name a few)

Pokemon (like you said)
Kirby Canvas Curse
Fire Emblem/Advance Wars
Mobile Pikmin
Animal Crossing
DK: King of Swing
Panel de Pon (Tetris Attack/Pokemon Puzzle League)
Posted: 09/10/12, 20:34:59
I think so, absolutely, thick back to Yoshi's Touch & Go, that was one of Nintendo's first foray's into touch gaming and it's better than almost anything on iPhone. If Nintendo designed a Mario game for iOS I'd buy it day one, and heck maybe they should do it, maybe it should be free and have built in ads for 3DS.

I agree about virtual controls though, but I think we are in the tiny minority, I very rarely see dedicated handhelds on the subway these days, but every day I see dozens of people playing iOS games, many of them dudes playing twin-stick games with virtual controls. People just don't care that tactile controls are better, even hardcore gamers are fine with virtual controls.
Posted: 09/10/12, 20:40:14
The Brain Age games are an obvious shoo-in for the mobile market.

EDIT: Also, the Lemmings-style Mario vs Donkey Kong games have proven to work well with touch-only controls. They would have to kind of water-down the level design since you wouldn't have the precision of a stylus on say, an iPhone, but I think it could still be fun.
Posted: 09/10/12, 20:40:50  - Edited by 
 on: 09/10/12, 20:42:31
They have lots of stuff to work with like shinriley said. I used to play Tetris on my phone during the commute and it worked great. Card games too. The mistake is choosing games that have way too many inputs/too little reaction time to be on the phone.
Posted: 09/10/12, 20:41:09

Should they? No, unless they make a gaming phone and their games are exclusive to it.
Posted: 09/10/12, 21:06:40
I think when people think that Nintendo should just make games for other platforms, they seriously underestimate how much money Nintendo makes off of their hardware. If anything, I would think they'd be the last company out of the big three to abandon the hardware biz. They're typically the only one that is consistently profitable from console to console.

That being said...part of me feels like there's a big missed opportunity for Nintendo sometimes. On the one hand, if they put games on the iPhone, they'd make an enormous amount of money. On the other hand, wouldn't that basically make people stop buying Nintendo platforms? The mobile gaming world is one of "good enough."

Do we even have enough data to support the idea that mobile gaming is stealing a lot of Nintendo's thunder? Aren't 3DS sales actually on pace to do even better than the DS, which was what, Nintendo's highest selling platform ever? Something like 120 million units or something like that? Wouldn't it be like people saying Sony should get out of the hardware business after the huge success of the PS2?
Posted: 09/10/12, 22:51:35
The idea that Nintendo is leaving money on the table by not making iPhone games is as nonsensical as saying that they're leaving money on the table by not making games for PS3 and 360, and it is nonsensical for the exact same reasons. I'm just flabbergasted at the stupidity of these analysts sometimes.
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:06:41


To answer the OP- Could they do it? Yes. Would it be successful (sales wise)? Probably not, unless they reduced the price to something ridiculous as befits that market. On that fact alone it would make zero business sense. You aren't going to get the expected level of Nintendo magic for 99c.
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:10:34
Yes, and I'm beginning to think they should.

Vita shows that the market for dedicated gaming devices has all but disappeared at the top end and for teens and older gamers.
As tablets and smartphone/devices get cheaper and cheaper, the market will disappear for younger gamers too.

Nintendo is a hardware and software company, but some tough choices are facing them. There's an enormous market out there with no Nintendo presence that they can dominate with their quality and star power - how long can they sit on the sidelines?
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:14:59

The Vita shows no such thing. People streetpassed like crazy at PAX, the 3DS is doing just fine with the older and teenage markets. To reduce the Vita's struggling beginning to "iPhone killed it", you really have to ignore a ton of other factors that weigh more and make more sense.
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:19:02
If Nintendo could successfully transition their properties to breakfast cereal, they can transition them to phones. It's just a question of why they'd want to do that and leave their lucrative hardware business behind.

Why don't people ever ask why Apple doesn't develop software for the DS?
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:36:16
You really think that tablets and smartphones have had no impact on Vita sales? I know several psp owners who haven't upgraded because they're more than happy with their existing multi-function devices. I'm glad there was a lot of street passing at PAX. I know that when I travel in standard locations like airports and shopping malls with my 3DS, I'm lucky to get a single street pass. Has anyone else had a different experience?

Nintendo have themselves said that 3DS sales are "softer" than they would like in the the West, a part of this has to be the rise of smart phone and tablet gaming. I've seen this in my daily life too. Vita's sales are bad, companies aren't even supporting it anymore.

The writing is on the wall and the trend is clear. It just makes for uncomfortable reading.
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:38:38

I didn't say it had no impact, I clearly said it wasn't the whole story.

achhibbar said:
@GuillaumeI know several psp owners
You know several PSP owners? Clearly your experience is very different from the norm and we should all take your anecdotal evidence with a grain of salt!

Seriously though, what about the DS owners you know? Wouldn't that be more relevant?
Posted: 09/10/12, 23:48:03  - Edited by 
 on: 09/10/12, 23:50:26
I wouldn't mind if Nintendo released, say, Aura Aura Climber on the iPhone for 2 bucks. It would instantly be like the best game the service has even seen, and it would be at the same price point as it is on the DSi Shop. For little time-waster 2 buck games, I think Nintendo could make some big bank on iOS. Keep the meatier stuff for their own platforms though.
Posted: 09/11/12, 00:08:40
@Guillaume I agree with you. I guess what I mean to say is that I really do wonder if there was a parallel universe and Nintendo started putting properties on the iPhone. Would it really crush them? Could it actually act as advertising for people to get a Nintendo platform?

Or what about supplementary apps - things like an official Pokedex, strategy guides, maybe a digital version of Nintendo Power, etc.

At the end of the day, my question is always - why do people want to see Nintendo games on a mobile platform? Just to play games on a device that they already have? I can see people wanting Nintendo to partner up with someone to make an Android OS and make some sort of Nintendo Android tablet, but I have about zero interest in seeing Nintendo games on my iPhone.
Posted: 09/11/12, 00:10:35

Exactly. People these days want their devices to have a bit of everything and be as practical as possible. I can see that many would like to play Nintendo games on their phones, because that would make their lives easier. People don't want to have to buy a new machine for their games, while already having a system that can play games, also being an universal tool for their everyday lives.

Of course, as pretty much everybody else, I don't think Nintendo will enter the Smartphone business so soon.
Posted: 09/11/12, 00:38:06
I could see Nintendo using phone games basically as advertisements for their brands. A lot of kids now have their first experience in gaming with phones and tablets. This is a big part of the Angry Birds phenomenon. It wouldn't hurt to have an addictive Mario or Pokemon game for young kids to grow up with and make sure that they are Nintendo fans for life.
Posted: 09/11/12, 00:46:55
@achhibbar If anything I think Vita shows that the market for "top end" handhelds was never there. But 3DS is still making a killing doing what Nintendo has been doing for years.
Posted: 09/11/12, 00:49:37

The Vita vs 3DS today reminds me of how the Game Boy vs Game Gear turned out, some years ago.

Of course Sony is Sony and SEGA is SEGA, but it is a similar situation.
Posted: 09/11/12, 01:14:42
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