Over the last couple of years, Nintendo has been getting a lot of criticism for not “evolving” with changing times, largely because of the financial performance of its latest home console, the Wii U. While the system is often home to some truly great games (like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., or Super Mario 3D World), the competition from both Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One is very heavy, and is often home to triple-A, multi-platform games that simply don’t get released — at least, not anymore — on Nintendo’s platform. Although the handheld Nintendo 3DS has sold more than 50 million units, many of Nintendo’s critics, and even supporters, think the company should start making games with their classic intellectual properties (or IP) on the ever-growing user base of smart devices.
Now, it looks like the iconic video game company is starting to at least partially listen.
According to a press release from the company itself, Nintendo has partnered with fellow Japanese firm DeNA Co., Ltd. to develop games and other applications exclusively for mobile devices. In addition to new game software, DeNA will also assist Nintendo in the creation of a new, multi-device membership service that is said to encompass existing Nintendo hardware, like the Wii U and 3DS. For people who might be thinking that this means Nintendo is leaving the creation of dedicated video game hardware behind, don’t bet on it. In the press release, they explain that this new avenue of business is designed to complement their existing business model, not replace it.
The alliance is intended to complement Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide. Under the alliance, DeNA will also be able to strengthen its gaming business at a global scale by leveraging Nintendo’s IP. To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, 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.
Perhaps even more interesting than learning that DeNA will develop mobile games with Nintendo’s existing library of IP is the notion of the membership service, which the press release says will be, “accessible from smart devices, PC and Nintendo systems, such as the Nintendo 3DS portable system and the Wii U home console.” While Nintendo has been embracing more online functionality in many of its biggest recent game releases, most gamers and Wii U owners would likely agree that the online infrastructure present on the system is a far cry from Microsoft’s Xbox Live or Sony’s PlayStation Network. There aren’t any specifics yet, though, about what this service could bring to the table outside of a targeted release window of this Fall.
And, just in case you still need a finer point put on it, at a Tokyo media briefing Nintendo says that they are actively developing their next dedicated gaming platform, codenamed “NX,” showing that they’re not getting out of the console business. That’s likely all we’ll know about it until next year, though.
For more on this as it develops, keep an eye on GeekNation!
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