Nintendo and the Mobile Gaming Market

Nintendo and the Mobile Gaming Market

Are Nintendo right to ignore this ever-growing market?

It is no secret that Nintendo are struggling when it comes to the Wii U. A few months ago, the company cut sales forecasts for the console from 9 million to 2.8 million. This is more than telling of the poor sales that the Wii U has been experiencing since its launch. But this article does not aim to cover the reasons for these poor sales, nor will it offer suggestions for how Nintendo can drastically increase them. Instead, it is concerned with another topic entirely:

Nintendo's decision not to enter the mobile gaming market.

An advertising and marketing company, CyberZ, just recently reported that the value of the Japanese gaming market alone is at 546.8 billion yen ($5.4b/?3.24b). The report also claimed that mobile gaming makes up a whopping 50% of the Japanese gaming industry; a great increase from 30% in 2012. The report points to even further growth for the industry heading into the future. Taking these figures into account, it is difficult not to spot the potential for Nintendo to make a lot of money from the mobile gaming market.

But if Nintendo were to do this, which of their games would be best suited to a mobile platform? A 2D Mario game would obviously work well on mobile devices due to their simplicity and the ability to jump in and out of the game with ease. There is also room for bringing back franchises that haven't seen a new game release in a while.

Could this become a reality?

Despite the obvious benefits that would befall Nintendo if it were to enter this market, I still have my qualms. For instance, I personally view the mobile market as mainly consisting of games that I would define as 'time-passers' - games that you only play in order to pass the time. It would be a shame for Nintendo to place their biggest brands on mobile devices for people to merely play them on their way to work. When I think of gaming, I think of sitting down to play something that you would willingly spend a portion of your day playing, as opposed to playing something to make the time pass quicker. I feel as though entering the mobile market could cheapen Nintendo's biggest mascots. However, my worries could be quelled if the company created completely new franchises specifically aimed at the mobile market.

It feels necessary to point to the promising sales of the Nintendo 3DS - over 15 million in Japan and over 11.5 million in North America - to provide a point-of-view which suggests that Nintendo isn't in so much trouble after all. With the company's handheld devices doing so well, it could be argued that Nintendo needn't enter the mobile market and should instead focus their resources on furthering the popularity of the 3DS and 2DS.

The 2DS and 3DS

This isn't even to mention the fact that the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, has, in the past, expressed his reluctance to release Nintendo games on anything but their own hardware. So the question also becomes: how likely are Nintendo to embrace this market any time soon, considering these factors?

Satoru Iwata - President of Nintendo

Given that there are arguments for both sides, it is difficult for me to form a definitive opinion on the matter. Whilst personally I would not want to see Nintendo release games such as Mario into the mobile market, due to the possibility of it cheapening the company's greatest mascot, I cannot argue against the financial benefits that it would provide the company and feel as though new franchises designed only for mobiles could work well. It seems as though only time will tell how successful the Wii U will become. Besides, with games such as Mario Kart 8 and the new Super Smash Bros. due to come out this year, sales for the Wii U can only rise in 2014 and beyond. Perhaps Nintendo's focus right now should be on improving sales for the Wii U, rather than branching out into another market altogether.

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Alex Morton

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