News Article

Iwata Resists Calls for Smartphone Games

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Says Nintendo's business in hardware is vital

Following Nintendo's press conference in Tokyo, CEO Satoru Iwata conducted an interview with Nikkei about the future of the 3DS and Nintendo as a whole. Amongst expected talk of strong software line-ups and a Nintendo fightback, Iwata was asked, once again, whether Nintendo would be joining the smartphone market by publishing games on platforms such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android. In response, Iwata was very clear:

This is absolutely not under consideration. If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. Having a hardware development team in-house is a major strength. It's the duty of management to make use of those strengths. It's probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we'd make profits. However, I believe my responsibility is not to short term profits, but to Nintendo's mid and long term competitive strength.

Following a mixed reaction to Nintendo's press conference, what do you think of these comments? Do you agree with Satoru Iwata about maintaining Nintendo's status as a hardware developer, or should they tap into the smartphone/tablet market?

[via andriasang.com]

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User Comments (85)

MrArcade

#1

MrArcade said:

Nintendo should stay 1st party developers forever...good on you Saturo Iwata

AmarMah

#2

AmarMah said:

i aggree with ninty, look at the developers who have gone smartphone, capcom, sega, namco, and what have they done that is exceptional? nothing imo, personally i cant wait until the likes of christmas and holiday periods until i can "have the time and funds" to open a gift or going out to buy somebody a game to havein there hand and being able to enjoy the expedrience of waiting in anticipation to turn on your system. a lot of people have adh imo, and they are no lifers who bitch without a face on the internet. How sad is that.....

Rawk_Hawk

#3

Rawk_Hawk said:

I would hate to see them water down the Nintendo brand with 99 cent smart phone apps and games. I believe it would cause Nintendo to cease to be Nintendo.

Kyloctopus

#5

Kyloctopus said:

It makes completely no sense. Nintendo will make MORE MONEY I can't wait to see how good the cut the rope sales as oppose to Urban Champion.
Why not. Can someone tell me?

Link79

#6

Link79 said:

yeah, Damn right! This is why he's the president of Nintendo.
This man gets it. You tell em Iwata!

moosa

#7

moosa said:

I know there are some good games on smartphone platforms, and if I happened to own one I would buy and play some of them, but I hate the way the iPhone and similar devices have effected the industry. I'm not a purest and I'm all for new experiences, but the gameplay standard set by these devices is largely a very clear step back for gaming.

Nintendo brought casuals and non-gamers further into the "core" market with the DS and Wii consoles, and now it seems almost as if smartphones are taking the core gamers out into the casual market.

@Koops3: I think you missed this line...
"However, I believe my responsibility is not to short term profits, but to Nintendo's mid and long term competitive strength."

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#8

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

Nintendo is Nintendo. As is with all the other gaming companies. They have a right to do what they want. For example the deal with Operation Rainfall and the Mega restart up project. Regardless of what we the fans and the public say its still up to them to make the final decisions.

NintyMan

#9

NintyMan said:

I'm getting tired of the business world belittling Nintendo just for their unique stance on not investing in Smartphone games. They don't understand how Nintendo gets it done. November can't come soon enough!

GiwrgarA

#10

GiwrgarA said:

Agree with Iwata, but that doesn't mean they not going to make their own smartphone. Right?

Samholy

#11

Samholy said:

i totally agree. if you want to play nintendo games, then buy a nintendo brand console.
and please dont make a smartphone nintendo, that would beuseless. iphone is the only way in this media.

Nightsider

#12

Nightsider said:

it would kind of cool though to see nintendo make a smartphone. In stead of a hinge it would be a slide and the top screen would be a sensitive touch screen as well as a 3d screen. Hey htc did it. and it would be an all digital platform. Who says nintendo cant make a better phone than apple. apple also came out of nowhere with a phone.

photofool83

#14

photofool83 said:

I fully agree with Iwata. Nintendo is a smart company and they will pull through this rough spot of not-so-great press. The 3DS rocks and will continue to rock because of the continued support Nintendo is showing it.

MaikoRULES

#16

MaikoRULES said:

at least he believes he's looking at the long term. so few business people do that. so many other developers would go for the quick cash fix. im glad they have more dignity than that

theblackdragonAdmin

#18

theblackdragon said:

good for him — focus on fleshing out the library of the brand new handheld you've released, for goodness' sake! ignore the people begging for smartphone games, you've got a dedicated handheld to populate with first-party titles already D:

maybe down the line i can see them having the spare time and resources to devote to bite-sized smartphone titles, but until then, they already need to get their act together regarding the 3DS. they just don't have time to mess around with smartphone development at the moment IMO.

Monsti

#20

Monsti said:

Smart man. I agree with you @MaikoRULES. Everyone is devaluelasing (sorry if that isn't a word ^^) their game library and will be forced to sell everything for 50cents soon.
Grabing money now is the only important thing...I'm happy if Nintendo will still be able to grab my money in 10-15 years when a lot of companys will be out of buisness. ^^

Spoony_Tech

#21

Spoony_Tech said:

I get bored with smart phone games so fast however I can see how some people would be addicted to them. Most people aren't going to carry a DS something or a PSP around with them all day like me. But they always have their phone with them but to be honest unless its free I've never paid for any smart phone game. Continue to do what you do well Nintendo and make us some great games!

KDR_11k

#22

KDR_11k said:

Honestly considering Nintendo manages to sell more copies of some games at 50$ than smartphone devs can sell at 1$ I think that stance is justified.

SUBTERRANEANboy

#24

SUBTERRANEANboy said:

no one would honestly spend a solid 15hours fiddling around to complete a game on a smartfone. these games are a quick fix on the go, like fast food. nintendo exude pure class and equate to a fine vintage wine. not everything has to be fast-paced and only give a quick fix in this self-serving facebook generation! Iwata believes in nintendos principles over easy money. alot of politicians should take note.

WaLzgiStaff

#25

WaLzgi said:

They seem to be doing fine at the moment. As long as they have Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, etc., they'll be fine

moosa

#26

moosa said:

As long as Nintendo remains in the hardware business it's just such a ridiculously BAD idea to put ANY resources into development for hardware they aren't making themselves. I can't express how stupid that would be. I was pretty annoyed when that story popped up about the investor encouraging everyone to sell their Nintendo stock because Nintendo wasn't making a stupid move like that.

FluttershyGuy

#27

FluttershyGuy said:

Thank God Iwata isn't listening to people who neither know anything about, nor care anything about QUALITY video gaming. Half of the investors probably wouldn't know Mario if he jumped on their stupid head! Nintendo is just a bunch of numbers on a financial statement to them.

Nintendo can tick me off with their decisions, but it's because I still care about them. Because they care enough about ME to bring me the best gaming experiences around!

killer6370

#29

killer6370 said:

Thanks Iwata san thats the best news i heard, i like nintendo games and am glad to see them stay on real consoles or handhelds made of (nintendo )quality and not on little mobile phones i played final fantasy on VC and tried it on iphone and the iphone verion really sucks

lol looks like i have to change my status from consumer to Investor(with the money i used to buy games i could also be a main investor xD

Cengoku

#30

Cengoku said:

Thank you Satoru Iwata for your efforts. Don't listen to those which pay on bourse. You have just to listen gamers and fans only and you'll have success as the DS and the Wii.
I think they want dsiware-like games on iphone (as glow artisan) . But if they do this , the eshop will be no more interesting

ThomasBW84Admin

#31

ThomasBW84 said:

I agree that Nintendo are doing the right thing to hold their nerve. The up-turn in 3DS sales since the price drop, along with an inevitable bump at Christmas (especially with Mario Land and Mario Kart being released) will boost the user base.

I also remember reading a piece of analysis (can't remember where at the moment), saying that iPhone and Android game sales are reaching a peak, and will start to decline. Gamers who start off with Angry Birds will often look to graduate to more substantial experiences, and the 3DS at its new price point and exciting range of games (from November onwards), will look pretty attractive.

After years of monster profits, Nintendo can afford to dig their heels in and ride out the storm.

Chris720

#32

Chris720 said:

And when Iwata retires we'll get a new president with the ability to make games for iOS platforms. D:

Hopefully that doesn't happen... EVER!

LinkaHolic

#33

LinkaHolic said:

I love you, Mr. Iwata... Thank you for sticking to your guns and not giving in and selling out. Quality games are what Nintendo has always been about and cellphone games are just LAME. Thanks Ninty for putting all your brainpower into games worth playing!!

bonesy91

#35

bonesy91 said:

Finally! someone smart in the game industry, knowing that phones don't equal video game systems.

JettiBlue

#36

JettiBlue said:

I agree also with the general consensus here, if you want to play Nintendo do it on Nintendo :-)
Not dismissing smartphone gaming I have to say it just does not compare to console gaming because of more limited controls and general simplification. I like my iPhone games, but I hardly play them more than a few minutes. Sure, there are some games on smartphone that are exception to that, but generally I think it's fair to say that consoles delivers a deeper and more sophisticate basis for gaming.
Unless smartphones start to get some more serious game controls they will stay the realm of casual, quick games.

DiggerandIndy

#37

DiggerandIndy said:

I think Iwata-san was very wise in his decision. It just wouldn't be Nintendo if they gave in to the smartphone craze.

Shane_Gill

#38

Shane_Gill said:

I disagree. It would take no effort at all to put out official NES games on iOS and they would literally lose nothing. Super Mario Bros. has been out for years and is easily available to everyone on multiple platforms. Super Mario Bros. being on iOS wouldn't negatively affect peoples decisions in purchasing Nintendo hardware, if anything it would encourage them to explore the world of Nintendo. They're missing out on millions of dollars and it's quite idiotic to blatantly ignore this gap in the market.

Pokefanmum82

#40

Pokefanmum82 said:

nintendo is doing the right thing by sticking to their guns. none of their games would translate well on the iPod or iPad. Maybe some of the DSiware would. Like Shantae is going to be on the iPod

JarredBuzzo

#41

JarredBuzzo said:

So they're having a little bit of trouble after roughly 3 years of record profits..2 years were a bit off (but they were still operating on a profit) why the hell are investors so short sighted?

aaronsullivan

#42

aaronsullivan said:

Iwata is right. For the time being Nintendo should leverage their entire pool of talent, hardware and software. Many of the decisions about gameplay have had a give and take effect with the hardware itself. Our favorite Nintendo games would not be the same if it had conformed to other manufacturer's hardware.

That being said, I think Nintendo should find a way to capitalize on the phone market in small ways. Official support apps for their games, strategy guides, maybe even demos or going so far as allowing interaction between phones and a 3DS. All risky ideas, but I think worth exploring.

The real problem is that as these phones and tablets gain more traction, it's going to be a harder and harder sell for Nintendo's hardware. In 5 years It's going to a serious problem for Nintendo in the portable space — too early to tell with the home console space, IMO.

I personally think Nintendo needs to merge with these markets somehow in the generation after 3DS. How? Possibly with deals. Nintendo hardware collaboration between a major handset maker like HTC or Apple. Doesn't make much sense at the moment, but the stars could align on this. Of course, such a device would have dedicated gaming controls and not rely on touch interfaces only.

The benefit of an approach like this would be that the handset maker could maintain it's platform integrity by controlling the hardware and standard app store, while Nintendo could bring it's brand of fun to it and still have a unique device to profit from and have exclusive uncompromising titles for. The difficulty would be control of the platform going forward after a deal like this.

grumblebuzzz

#43

grumblebuzzz said:

I don't really understand the "mixed response" to Nintendo's press conference. Yes, all they really did was show further footage of games we already knew about plus all the JRPGs, but isn't that enough? There's at least eight major games on the way, likely in the next 6 months. How big are most people's wallets anyway? What more does the public need?

Ren

#44

Ren said:

This is slightly risky in terms of the way that market works right now, but also a relief to hear. Nintendo has chosen firmly not to enter that market at all and that's cool for me.
I'm just not a smartphone guy, and even if I get one (which I will soon) it will never replace my nintendo in terms of gaming, not even my computer can do that; Nintendo is Nintendo. It's like using a "Kleenex" to wipe your nose. Or to "Hoover" up something from the carpet (for you guys in the UK).
The Brand is that strong and he knows it, and he has to stand that strong over it, because anything else would signal that Nintendo themselves are flailing for cash and on the brink.
He's not saying he 'doesn't want to make money', he's just saying they aren't 'hurting for money' in a way that they need to make that kind of move.
There are few brands left with that kind of power and the Three console companies are just some of those. Big brands don't parcel out product until after the point of big trouble or bankruptcy (like Polaroid). It just looks bad and devalues stock further.
Investors see the mobile market and they see stuff on little screens making money; they like money; If Nintendo actually pulled the trigger on that, though? That would really scare them and it's stupid long term.
That's like Mercedes or GM offering luxury segway conversions; investors would not be happy.

Dizzard

#45

Dizzard said:

I agree with Iwata too....maybe it's not in line with the smartest business decision (as of now anyway) but least his heart is in the right place. You've got to admire him for sticking to his guns like that.

It's statements like these that remind me why I support Nintendo.

Ren

#46

Ren said:

AaronSullivan is right, tho. That kind of thing needs to start happening in a couple years, but not just yet.

aaronsullivan

#47

aaronsullivan said:

@Mully
Yeah, I don't know either. I think it's mostly the Japanese investor response that is mixed. It's hard to gauge fan and gamer response this soon after and those are the people who will ultimately show the success or failure with their wallets.

R-L-A-George

#48

R-L-A-George said:

I always agree with Iwata, especially about how short term the smartphone thing is going to be. Its pretty much a fad, I mean, I've never heard of anyone getting bored of classic Nintendo games or first party, unless thats all they been playing for a month straight, they think the games are too childish for what they think is sophisticated adult taste or they are a little girl that plays My Little Pony on DS.

Rococoman

#49

Rococoman said:

I would agree with Iwata if Nintendo still made desirable hardware. However, Nintendo's hardware as of late has become more of an obstacle to playing their games than a perk of playing them. I don't have a 3DS because I think it's a useful tool, or because I like watching oddly chosen, poorly updated videos on a low-res screen, I have it because I want to play Nintendo's exclusive games.

More than ever, the only reason to have a Nintendo system now is to play their exclusive games; if a game appears on another system, it is probably far superior on that system. What if the ONLY way to listen to the Beatles was to use some proprietary Beatles-sponsored cassette player, which made its limited selection of other music sound like garbage compared to competing technology? I bet it would sell pretty well, at least until someone found an easily accessible way around this lame limitation.

I'm very, very interested to see how this holiday season goes for Nintendo, as well as how the Wii U develops.

Ben_Rage_V2

#50

Ben_Rage_V2 said:

Never underestimate Nintendo. They have access to secret alien technologies centuries ahead of us mere feeble humanoids. Plus they have an army of cyber ninja assassins ( who wield laser katana's) protecting their alien research and development teams.

capitalism

#51

capitalism said:

I agree with Iwata on this, Nintendo should not develop for smartphones. Nintendo is not Nintendo without hardware and I think the third party route would be more harmful than good in the long run.

R-L-A-George

#52

R-L-A-George said:

@Rococoman True, although I think Nintendo might be a little more ahead of the competition than you think. A lot of trends, I don't see sticking around forever. Most 3rd party games on the Wii, were horrible looking because they were too lazy to make it look cleaner and they think its a lower life-form in comparison. Playstation 2 games in its first few years had quite boxy looking graphics, but towards the end they started looking smoother. Doubt the Wii would go through the same transformation.

The videos are not that bad and not low resolution, in fact the Netflix on 3DS looks more HD than the Wii.The videos are not always updated because its mostly 3rd party videos. Wish Nintendo would make animations based on their games.

I agree about having 3DS for the exclusive games.

Aqueous

#53

Aqueous said:

Got to love the logic this man has. It's like a chess match if you play in the short term trading pieces at random, you lose but if you keep working on checkmate in the long term and making the right trade offs, you win while the oppenent falls.

Shining-Void

#54

Shining-Void said:

you tell'em iwata i cant imagin a mario/zelda/starfox game on a phone the game would suck be hopelessly short, and a waste you cant put nintendo games on a phone nowhere near enough memory to be decent ... i hate stupid people who think nintendo is so desperate they do somthing like that ... and besides WHO WANTS A ZELDA GAME ON AN I-PHONE

DrCruse

#56

DrCruse said:

I disagree with him. Did Nintendo stop being Nintendo when they transitioned from manufacturing playing cards to videogames? No, they are still Nintendo. Would making 3rd party games suddenly stop them from being Nintendo? Of course not!

Nintonic

#57

Nintonic said:

Good job now I know that I bought a sytem that's worth it. I don't what to say except that I 100% agree with most of the people on having him not make games for the phone. I want to be seperated from the phones, who needs games on a phone anyway? It's called a PHONE.

DarkEdi

#58

DarkEdi said:

I´m glad a lot of people know the true spirit of videogames and not like to see how a company falls for a few easy bucks.

Weavius

#59

Weavius said:

Iwata realizes that investors don't care about the companies; they just want a quick profit, sell and move on to the next company they want to canibalize.

WaLzgiStaff

#60

WaLzgi said:

Still, no one's given a good reason why they shouldn't develop for smart phones aside from the fanboy rants

RantingThespian

#61

RantingThespian said:

People have been bashing Nintendo and saying they are going to die. The only way they are going to die if they give in to other companies and leave the hardware business.

On a personal note, I bought the Wii because of it's innovation. Its gotten to the point that games all seem so similar on the PS3, Xbox 360, and the PC. I want more interesting and new ways of playing. Nintendo started back with the N64 by creating true 3D worlds and was the first to have an analog stick on their first party controllers! I love their new ways of looking at games, and that is why I like Nintendo. They keep looking on how to be different and original, and not conform.

C-195

#62

C-195 said:

What is the logic in developing games for second-rate platforms (in terms of gaming ability) when you've got your own far superior gaming oriented device. NONE (except for money, but I'm sure that is second to making great game for Nintendo.

SUBTERRANEANboy

#65

SUBTERRANEANboy said:

the beatles back catalogue wasnt readily available for decades in the internet era, and they stubbornly refused to let it be used in adverts. like nintendo, it was thought this would cheapen the music or undermine its integrity. it didnt harm the beatles in the long term. The obvious reason nintendo wont make software for smartfones is that, just like video calling for wiiU coming next year, so fone capabilities will be included in a later nintendo portable. Dont forget, as the public demands products bcome smaller and smaller (mobile fone screens), proper epic game playing on a tiny screen with bad controls bcomes nigh on impossible.

bboy2970

#66

bboy2970 said:

People just don't "get" Nintendo. Sure they can be frustrating at times but ultimately they know exactly what they're doing and they're gonna do things their way. I totally agree with Iwata. If I ever sat down at my computer and read Nintendo was gonna start developing for phones I think I would go numb...

Thwiidscube

#69

Thwiidscube said:

Smart decision Iwata! Even though smartphones are the major technology industry, Nintendo should just stick with video game consoles and handhelds. You people who want them to make phones, shut up! Nintendo knows what they're doing. Leave them alone for once!

@Bloodysaber: Are you crazy! No way!

grumblebuzzz

#72

grumblebuzzz said:

Until the day that there is the option to buy a seperate controller to plug into these phones, Nintendo simply will not put it's first party IPs on there. Can you imagine Mario or Metroid or Zelda on a phone with touchscreen controls? It would be awful. That's the biggest reason I don't play smartphone games. You can use "virtual controls" all you like, they just aren't precision enough for Nintendo's games. Things like shooters and Angry Birds, sure, because you just tap and release but Mario on a smartphone? No way.

irken004

#74

irken004 said:

@Mully Uh... remember Zelda: Spirit Tracks or Phantom Hourglass?

But I agree with Iwata. They have a reputation in the industry to uphold.

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#75

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

@21 - Um....I carry around my 3DS or DSi and PSP with me everywhere...along with my not so smartphone ( the Microsoft Kin Two).

R-L-A-George

#76

R-L-A-George said:

@Sakura_Moonlight2421 I think we probably all do that with our hardware, I have an specialized purse. :3

Though I have an pretty standard flip and the only reason I would get a smartphone is to manage my work and stuff, only exception may be the Xperia Play.

Rococoman

#78

Rococoman said:

@SUBTERRANEANboy What if, however, instead of finally being released onto mainstream services, music by the Beatles was only available on some Beatles-sponsored audio player? This audio player would also be supplied with "quality experiences" chosen by some record executives. I bet this product would sell, but it would be a slap in the face of music fans.

If the 3DS were a real wiz-bang product, I wouldn't be arguing against it here. However, the 3DS instead is a big, clunky, low-res brick with terrible battery life, poor support except for 1st party efforts, and terrible secondary functions. I am being overly harsh here, I realize, but Nintendo is much stronger at making software lately than hardware.

Imagine the experiences that Nintendo could make on a capacitive touch screen. Instead of everyone talking about Angry Birds on their smartphones, they could be discussing the newest Mario game on their smartphones.

Lastly, a lot of people here are saying that Nintendo games need buttons. If the need for buttons is the only reason games should appear on the 3DS, then this is a very weak argument, indeed.

WWammy

#79

WWammy said:

@ Rococoman the buttons argument is not weak maybe for you but generally it's not weak for anyone that knows the difference between tactile feedback and none at all.

Why are people picking on Nintendo all of a sudden anyway why doesn't anyone call for Sony and Microsoft to put their games on IOS devices.

I don't care to play Mario on a smartphone for this I buy Nintendo devices.
You want IOS then buy an Iphone or Ipod touch you want to play Nintendo games you buy Nintendo devices.
You want to play Sony games you buy a Playstation why is this concept so hard for some people to accept =D

JGMR

#81

JGMR said:

Still use my old Nokia phone. Screw all the gimmickry on these things. ;)

tanookisuit

#82

tanookisuit said:

People who beg for smart phone games are smart phone owners who are big gamers who want all their interests in an all in one device right there, right now, or not at all. Nintendo in the future maybe wise to go there, but today and for the near future no. It would be a financial hole for them that would easily start shoveling the dirt over the coffin of the 3DS. They wouldn't put a lazy effort into it, they'd do all they could and when they could nearly match or better a 3DS title the system would be irrelevant and then they'd be shoveling their way into a hole you can't climb out of right down the drain like Sega went. Stand your ground or lose what you have. They uniquely can stand alone with all the properties they have, so do it.

LordTendoboy

#83

LordTendoboy said:

Most smartphone games are underpriced. 99 cents is extremely affordable, but it gives the wrong impression that all handheld games should be inherently cheap. Look at the prices of games on Xbox Live Arcade. None of those games are 99 cents/100 MS points, and no one complains.

LordTendoboy

#84

LordTendoboy said:

We payed $30 for old black and white Game Boy games back in the 1990's, and we were perfectly fine with that. Apple and Google have spoiled modern gamers, making them expect all handheld/smartphone games to be that cheap.

Kyloctopus

#85

Kyloctopus said:

@ Moosa (comment number 7)
No I read that part, with Nintendo's experience, they can do just as well as all those other million sellers.

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