iwataOn Friday, Nintendo announced it was slashing its sales forecast for Wii U units and that they expect to operate at a loss for the upcoming fiscal year. It's no secret that their latest home console has been struggling. While their latest handheld console the 3DS saw similar early woes following its launch, a price reduction and a strong lineup of first-party games has helped that system turn itself around. Though Nintendo also announced lowered sales expectations for the 3DS, overall the system is performing well enough. Time will tell if the Wii U will see a similar turnaround, but as of right now, it's in the tank.

In a follow-up press conference, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata had some interesting comments for the media. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Iwata stated "The way people use their time, their lifestyles [and] who they are have changed. If we stay in one place, we will become outdated." He also mentioned that Nintendo might be considering a "new business structure" which many have interpreted as Nintendo branching out to put their own IPs like Mario and Zelda on competing platforms like smartphones and tablets.

Today, The Wall Street Journal posted a new article on Nintendo which dispels those "reading between the lines" notions that were taken from Iwata's statements on Friday. "The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It’s not that simple," Iwata said. "It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones."

Further clarifying Iwata's statements from Friday, WSJ says Iwata feels the key for Nintendo is figuring out a way to use smartphones in a way that makes people aware of Nintendo's own hardware and games, and encourage them to try them out. This falls right in line with statements that Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime made back in December about how Nintendo was looking to "experiment" with smartphones and tablets in a way that would drive those users back to Nintendo's own offerings.

WiiU 06-15-103dspress

So, no it does't look like Nintendo is going to be offering their own games on smartphones or tablets anytime soon. Yes, a port of Mario or Zelda would no doubt be a license to print money, and I'm sure Nintendo knows that, but money isn't necessarily the point. Nintendo itself is over a hundred years old, and they've been a leader in the video game market for decades. They're playing the long game here, and it doesn't sound like they're ready to give up on their current strategy, which is developing their own hardware and then selling that hardware based off the strength of their first-party offerings.

Yes, the Wii U is flopping and Nintendo is losing money, but they are far from going broke. If we see anything from Nintendo on smartphones, my guess is it will be some form of connection to their MiiVerse service or a Nintendo eShop app of some kind. Possibly even an original game featuring an icon like Mario, but not actually a "Mario game" like you can get on their current systems. Think along the lines of what Sega did with Sonic Dash. Whatever it is they have planned for mobile devices, we should find out more on January 30th when Nintendo plans to hold a strategy briefing elaborating on the "new business structure" they hinted at previously. Stay tuned.

Image source

[The Wall Street Journal]

  • TimTim92

    Nice!

  • TimTim92

    Great article! :)

    Nintendo is a beast, they're not out yet.
    I can't wait to see what they do to make a turn-around. I hope another device never gets a Nintendo game, ever. They're so niche and unique that there will always be demand.

    It may be a bumpy road for Nintendo, but I can guarantee that it will be a brighter future for them. I just can't wait to be a part of it!

  • Arcite

    Nintendo's market cap is a paltry 20 billion, Apple should just buy them out.

    • nini

      Nobody ever remembers the Pippin.

      • Jay G

        Or, the dodo bird.

    • wildperson

      Are you kidding?...

    • MaqueGenio

      Something is going on here. Any other day a post like this would mean death sentence and you would be smashed into pieces by the N defence force. Its been much quieter today and i wonder where are the usual suspects...

    • rewind

      Well Nintendo would have to allow Apple to buy them, and they would never do that in a thousand years. In fact, I think they'd rather shut their door for good than sell the Mario and Zelda IPs.

      • TJF588

        With the taint of Apple's worst distribution decisions still clinging on (grief, some of my olde music stuff and the strange limbo their DRM-ridden ghasts inhabit...), I wouldn't trust matters not to just compound with Nintendo's as-yet-intact antiquities.

    • TimTim92

      Keep trolling

    • 21tigermike

      Unless Apple can save 20 billion and just kill them with iPad+iPhone games. Oops.

  • Thawkk

    Good on them. The moment they start porting games over to other systems is when you'll know they're doomed. People seem to think that this news means that Nintendo is already doomed, but they're not; they've got enough money to afford this loss. This is just a sign that Nintendo needs to do something different, and it seems like they know that.

    • rewind

      Yes, that's true. Their excellent games are one of the only reasons people buy their consoles. It's just that they lose money on consoles and have a small number of people to sell games to on the Wii U, whereas they could sell to billions on mobile.

      • jamesgecko

        Their consoles are actually sold at profit, unlike Microsoft and Sony's platforms.

      • jibbyjackjoe

        Not this gen. Wii U does actually lose a tiny amount. But not nearly close to the other two, comparatively.

  • lr1919

    nesPhone? I'd buy one.

    • Zerol3onheart

      I was thinking the same thing. People would jump out of windows if Nintendo released an unlocked smartphone that had access to Virtual Console.

  • themostunclean

    Nintendo may not be done for but it's a tough road ahead and things are not looking good. The video game industry and it's core consumers have changed drastically over the last few decades. Nintendo simply hasn't evolved- beginning with their refusal to accept gaming's maturing audience and most recently with their ludicrously underpowered and gimmicky hardware offerings.

    I've owned every Nintendo home console up until now. I just couldn't justify a purchasing a weak console for IPs that I frankly find childish nowadays. They have a lot of growing up to do if they're going to win back players, hopefully that's what this new strategy involves because I'd love to have Nintendo back as a serious contender. I can just imagine the awesome games they could create for real adults, not just perpetual child Nintendophiles.

    • nini

      What sort of games would you like to see?

      • rpgmind

        The adult kind

  • madmaxmedia

    Ironically, the main source of their problems at this present moment is not the rise of smartphones (3DS sales are okay), but huge problems with their home console. Sony and Microsoft are on track with their console launches, while Nintendo has been DOA from the start with Wii U.

    Yes, the landscape is changing and Nintendo must evolve. But had they come out with a home console that people actually wanted, they would be singing a different tune right now (not necessarily the right one, as they'd probably be going on about how the new generation of Nintendo hardware is much better than smartphones, and proves that their 1st-party-only model is good.)

  • falco

    Well Its to bad Nintendo I won't be buying another new Wii U

  • br4nd0n

    I grew up with Nintendo and there's no denying that their first-party titles are what sets them apart. I'd love to see a triple-a Zelda or Mario title on iOS as much as the next guy, but I'm sure that we won't be seeing that for a long time. The day we actually see one of their beloved franchises on another device other than their own hardware, that's when we'll know they fell off.
    On the other hand, I haven't bought any Nintendo consoles since the launch of the original Wii. Either I've matured enough for their overly kid-friendly games they've been putting out or my iPad took over my gaming. There's no doubt that there is an extremely HUGE market for people like me that would love to have an official Nintendo title on their smartphone. Just something to think about.

  • anon_coward

    i don't know about google, but for IOS they can just make their own controller and sell their games on the app store. if you want to play on TV, get an apple TV.

    they have always been about their first party titles anyway. the hardware was there to sell the nintendo games.

  • MaqueGenio

    Yay Just what we needed for a nice week. Looking forward to see Nint fanboys in full force with their usual spin.

  • Poo

    And so continues nintendo's slow fizzling death.

  • 61050

    i like those crazy nintendo guys

  • Hoggy110

    I like how people here are conveniently forgetting what the best-selling console of last year was...and the two best selling consoles of last gen...and what happened with the Gamecube

    • rewind

      Yup. It's just that the Wii U is selling even worse than the GameCube. In fact, it's selling even worse than the DreamCast. Oh, and the DreamCast controller had a screen on it too.

      • K.D!

        Technically it didn't... the VMU unit had the screen on it, without purchasing one separately the controller itself just had a gaping square hole in the top.

  • derek4real

    Stupid fucking gooks

  • Jay

    "Nintendo was looking to 'experiment' with smartphones and tablets in a way that would drive those users back to Nintendo's own offerings."

    Smartphone apps for Nintendo's e-Shop and hardware sales. Has to be that. It'll give people the option to buy games from their smartphone any time. People can browse the catalog, and if they see something they like but don't own a Nintendo console, they could order one directly from them.

    That's my guess.

  • H4nd0fg0d

    Read all comments and I whole heartedly believe Nintendo is no longer relevant.

  • brazilianguy

    I hope they make pokemon x and y for iphone tablets too *0*

  • pausiopao

    Nintendo should make a 3rd party controller/device that attaches to the iPhone and make it compatible with their Nintendo games for the iPhone

  • rewind

    Funny, the quotes are slightly different than what Forbes and such wrote, I assume it's just that things get translated differently. Regardless, I doubt Itowa is ready to put Mario on a smartphone. Maybe we'll see some companion apps, or even the simple recognition that mobile exists. Either way, nintendo is just going to have to stick it out with the Wii U. And hope the 3DS's success doesn't vanish.

    The main problem is that Nintendo joined a sinking ship in 2006. Well, it hadn't started to sink yet, but it would very soon. They need to get back on track and pull off something huge.

  • Onikage725

    Isn't their proposed approach exactly what Sony does (free runner, to make you check out the full game) or the various companion apps of third party devs?

  • gmattergames

    This only can go several ways ...

    1. Nintendo let's go of corporate pride (unlikely) and discontinues its futile effort to compete in the console space.
    2. Nintendo is acquired by a company who cares more about profitability than pride and proceeds to whore their IP's until we're sick of them (think Angry Birds.)

    More likely ...
    3. Nintendo releases a console that interfaces with your mobile device for use as a controller/auxiliary display. (WiiU done right.)

    Even more likely ...
    4. Nintendo releases a proprietary controller that is required to play their IP's on your mobile device. Which, if done well, is a sure thing.

  • TJF588

    Nintendo will not be outdated until they can at least catch up to Sony in the digital distribution department. Even with the recent Nintendo ID updates (allowing Wii U and 3DS accounts to be bound together), purchases are still tied to the system they were bought on (or moved to as part of a system transfer), and there are Virtual Console games available for two or more consoles (namely, WiiWare [or whatever the larger store's called], Wii U eShop, and 3DS eShop), but you would have to buy the game for each individually if you want to use all three, with no clear game save sharing.

    I can't see a mobile eShop working out until purchases become account-based. (And by damn, I hope I could pitch in my couple'a Wii purchases without having to get a Wii U first.)

  • Smash brother

    Most people would pay $5 to play Mario 3 or some other Nintendo game on their phone. Nintendo could make a lot of money in the short term this way, but they don't want to undermine their console business. How can they leverage mobile while not destroying their console based model?

    Here's a thought -

    How about they charge people $20 per game to play on their phone, but add in a $15 coupon for a Wii U. Make the coupons stackable. As an added benefit, give them a free copy of the same game on the Virtual Console on the Wii U. The cherry on top could be the ability to save your progress on your phone and start up at the same place on your Wii U. All of a sudden a $20 ripoff is now a somewhat value proposition that might just jumpstart Wii U sales if they can get enough takers.

    Feasible idea?

    • 21tigermike

      "Most people would pay $5 to play Mario 3 or some other Nintendo game on their phone"

      Seriously? I can download it right now on my laptop and have very little interest. *shrug*

      • Smash brother

        Emulators on android are easy to find and easy to install. On iOS, might have to root your phone or something. However, given a reasonably priced legal option, most people would quit, or at least cut back, on the pirate option. Plus all the non-tech savvy people out there.

  • jbelkin

    There are several things - Nintendo would never sell out. They are stubborn ***es as well as being a Japanese company with a complex intertwined corporate structure. The day Nintendo actually sells itself to another company would be like the Boston Red Sox moving to NY & sharing yankee Stadium. In the interim, they will try and release a Nintendo DS phone of some kind but it will fail. Nintendo does not work well with others AT ALL and they have zero concepts about UX/UI. It's passable on a console but just look at their social/share/online efforts. They spend 99% of their time making sure you can't pirate anything instead of making a device you want to use. My prediction is Nintendo will try and load everything onto a chip and price it $50 above the iPhone. Since Sony hates them, that leaves them other Jpnese mobile companies like Panasonic and Toshiba - er good luck with that. So, it will be a large bulky phone that works like *** and costs about $949. Needless to say, it will fail. So, in 2017 - they might be desperate enough to license out some titles ... but more likely, stubbornly merge through some complex arrangement with another Japanese company and try and restart the whole thing ...

    • rewind

      Yes, a phone could be good. The only problem is that they don't have an app store type thing other than the eShop, which is a far cry from the actual App Store. So if there's not many apps, then not many people buy it. And if not many people buy it, then Nintendo becomes clueless as to what they did wrong. So I agree, the phone will fail

  • CaponeTalks

    Let's be honest: we can't really judge Nintendo's future now, as games like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. U haven't seen the light of day yet.
    I own a Wii U and I think it's surely the most innovative gaming console out there. I love the GamePad, Miiverse, etc. Even though PS4 and XBone are technically superior, I'm sure Wii U still can prevail if Nintendo continues to build up a good relationship with (Indie) devs.
    I love Apple devices, because you can feel hardware and software are from a single source. The same goes for Nintendo devices.
    I never though I'd buy a 3DS. I rolled over the floor laughing as they released that mobile gaming device. But after a price cut and the release of a blockbuster title (Mario Kart 7) I had to buy one. Now this mediocre handheld is selling like crazy. I think the same will happen with the Wii U when blockbuster titles appear.
    I wish Nintendo good luck and hope they will always choose their own way. The gaming market needs innovators like Big N.

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    I always wondered what marketing genius named the Nintendo flagship the same name as urine? I know it's supposed to be like "we", but it's more similar to "I took a wee."
    Now who's the Wii-ner?

  • xistel

    How about porting one classic or another? Like the first Mario or whatever. That can get people interested as well as give people who don't really have nintendo on their radar right now a taste of the goodness over at their camp. also, it'd be a huge jump in brand awareness.

  • 21tigermike

    Nintendo threatening to join the 21st Century... tsk tsk tsk...Oh dear..