Nintendo Finally Getting Into Mobile Games

This is one of those news items that makes you scratch your head and wonder, “Wait, they weren’t already doing this? What’s wrong with them?” It seems Nintendo is finally taking the astoundingly obvious step of becoming a mobile game developer (as the company should have done five years ago) through an alliance with Japanese mobile game maker DeNA. Yes, that means iconic Nintendo characters like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Pokemon may finally be coming to mobile games for smartphones and tablets. 

Under the terms of the deal, Nintendo will take a 10% stake in in DeNA, which will simultaneously take a 1.2% stake in Nintendo -- both stakes costing $182 million. DeNA will then help the once-dominant video game company create a global, membership-based game service set to launch later this year.

The service won’t simply deliver old games revamped for new platforms, as the partners plan to develop entirely new games crafted for mobile devices, some of which may be based on existing Nintendo properties. The new games will also be available for Nintendo consoles and Wii U, according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who said this “will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles.” Iwata added that Nintendo does intend to keep developing its new console, the NX.

Previously Nintendo had stubbornly resisted the mobile gaming trend, instead pinning its hopes on new console-based products like the Wii. However these failed to shore up sales, and its stock price has steadily fallen from 70,500 yen in November 2007 to a recent low of 10,695 in October 2014. The latest announcement helped buoy the stock price up to 14,080 yen still down 80% from its 2007 peak.

Meanwhile DeNA, once a leader in the Japanese mobile game industry, has suffered as players switch from browser-based mobile games to apps. The Nintendo deal specifies that DeNA will be working on apps.

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