At first glance, the New York Times’ feature on Nintendo’s Wii U launch, and the wider battle it faces to stay relevant in a world of cheap/freemium smartphone and tablet games.
The company’s US boss Reggie Fils-Aim reiterates the company’s “business decision” not to fight fire with fire by taking brands like Mario to mobile devices. But… “He adds that the company may allow people to buy its games through mobile phones and have them delivered to their Nintendo devices,” explains the feature.
A direct quote would be better in this situation, but the notion is still intriguing: essentially a companion app on smartphones for Nintendo’s other devices, albeit one focused on purchasing content rather than in-game use, unlike Microsoft’s Smartglass.
Big changes in the mobile games market are having an impact on Nintendo’s strategy in other ways – for example it’s allowing developers to publish freemium games for the Wii U that make money from virtual items.
It’s hard to fight off the sense, though, that Nintendo’s decision not to make games for non-Nintendo devices relies on the success of its current generation of hardware: the Wii U console and 3DS handheld.
If those prove disappointing, here’s a mental image for you – one that’s been bobbing around my brain while writing this piece. June 2013 (or 2014 if you want to be cautious): Apple’s WWDC event. As CEO Tim Cook ends his keynote, he grins at the audience and says “There is one more thing…” before a giant Mario appears on the screens behind him, and the announcement of an exclusive distribution deal with Nintendo.
Yes, very unlikely at the time of writing, given Nintendo’s clear statements on its mobile strategy. But even a few months can be a long time in the games industry right now.