After long resisting making games for mobile phones, Nintendo announced a partnership with Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA on Tuesday to make smartphone games featuring Nintendo characters.
This doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing the original "Super Mario Bros." leaping onto smartphones anytime soon, though. In a statement, DeNA said “only new, original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system.”
The decision, DeNA said, is for quality control, because games originally designed for Nintendo’s consoles aren’t likely to play well on smartphones due to different controls and screen sizes.
The partnership will also involve the two companies developing a cross-platform service set to launch this fall that will run across mobile devices, PCs and Nintendo’s own devices. Nintendo is also buying a 10% stake in DeNA, while DeNA is buying a 1.24% stake in Nintendo. Both acquisitions are worth 22 billion yen ($182 million). Payment is due April 2, the companies said.
Nintendo has long been fiercely protective of its intellectual property, keeping its characters and franchises like Mario and Pokémon exclusive to its own devices. The partnership with DeNA is a significant move for the company, which has in recent years struggled with low sales of its Wii U console, a device that has so far failed to replicate the success of the Wii, which was released in 2006.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday that the move doesn’t mean Nintendo is giving up on the console business. He said the company is working on a new console with a “brand new concept," codenamed NX. More details on the console are expected to be announced next year.