News Article

Nintendo Creating a New Console for Emerging Markets, Including China

Posted by Jake Shapiro

"For us, Microsoft's approach wouldn't work," Iwata says

In an interview today with Reuters, Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata revealed the company is planning to introduce new hardware and software for unspecified "emerging markets" over the next two years to take advantage of a rising middle class in many parts of the world; China immediately comes to mind, but this could also include emerging economies like India and Brazil. Iwata said this new console will not be the 3DS or Wii U, but something entirely different:

It would be difficult to enter those markets if we didn't create something new... For the mass market you need to provide something that most of the middle class can afford.

Iwata-san explained the new products will be aimed at "consumers with lower incomes and less gaming experience than those in developed countries;" as the Wii U continues to struggle, it's important for Nintendo to gain a foothold in these markets that will increase exponentially in buying power over the coming years. However, Nintendo will not follow Microsoft's lead after China recently lifted its game console ban, as Microsoft announced last month it will release the Xbox One through a Chinese affiliate in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone this September. Iwata-san elaborated:

We think the Chinese market has a lot of potential, but I don't think the lifting of the ban has solved all of the difficulties in entering it. We need to study it more... For us, Microsoft's approach wouldn't work.

Releasing hardware and games in China will be an arduous process, although it's not Nintendo's first foray into the country: since 2002, Nintendo has released select games in a limited capacity through iQue, a joint venture with a Chinese entrepreneur. Nintendo has not provided any more details, but could Iwata-san's comments today have something to do with the enigmatic "Quality of Life" platform he's been so crazy about lately? How do you think Nintendo should enter the market in China and other emerging nations? Let us know in the comments.


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User Comments (89)



CorporalPegasus said:

I wonder what it'll play. Wii or 3DS games? I doubt Wii U, the tablet controller is way too expensive.



Dark-Link73 said:

"For the mass market you need to provide something that most of the middle class can afford...."

Iwata thinks that I'm "middle-class" because I bought a Wii U and a 3DS, LOL! How cute of him. I'm afraid I'm going to have to burst his bubble.



SphericalCrusher said:

Was hoping NintendoLife would get around to posting this! So much news this morning! Hah. I am very much looking forward to what comes out of this. Interested in seeing what this will be.



RickyWill said:

Very busy news day today. I wonder what we'll also be seeing due to the Mario Kart 8 news event the Nintendo World store in New York (USA) will be doing later today.

To get back on topic, what was the console ban about again?



PorllM said:

@Dark-Link73 Wait, what do you mean? He just said for a product to be viable it needs to be affordable by the middle class, not that all customers MUST be middle class. I highly doubt your financial situation is on Iwata's radar lmao.



HappyMaskedGuy said:

Can't help but wonder if Nintendo are preparing to drop the struggling Wii U in the West in pursuit of an apparently easier carrot abroad.
This is concerning to me as a Nintendo fan.



AlexOlney said:

I'm picturing something along the lines of a budget model of either the Wii, Wii U or 3DS.

I'm picturing the original 3DS without the 3D capabilities and limited hardware - perhaps no infa-red and/or wireless.



Sceptic said:

If this is the fabled WiiU 'light' (minus the game pad and hence cheaper) this may be the smartest move ever by Nintendo. Push your failing numbers with a cheaper console that runs the same software. But my feeling is that's not the plan.



Lalivero said:

Definitely keeping an eye on this to see what it is about and what they are doing to make this more affordable, etc.

@PorllM I had to laugh at that, too, haha. XD



rjejr said:

@AlexOlney - If that's a 2DS joke then you beat me to it. I know 2DS is promoted as "safe for kids, no 3D" but it's really just a budget 3DS.

They can sell Wii Mini, $99 w/ MK8 in a bright red box

Good to see Nintendo wanting to expand into the worlds 2 largest markets in China and india but I really hope they are putting a considerable amount of effort into selling Wii U in the rest of the world. MK8 in May, maybe B2 this summer, then SSB "Winter 2014". E3 needs some Wii U game news.



Peach64 said:

I wonder if they'll go for some kind of small, cheap box along the lines of an Apple TV or Vita TV that just plays VC and/or eShop titles.



AVahne said:

The 3DS line is already pretty cheap in terms of internal hardware and external compared to every other modern gaming device (even from China). Are they going to cheap out even more than they did with the 2DS?



PJR0cks said:

It will be something along the line of Wii U in power minus the gamepad, also the important thing isn't the price of the hardware, it's the price of the games, now there you will see real cuts, games will probably be around 15$ instead of 60$.



Takerkaneanite6 said:

Awesome, I'm an Indian born and living in England and it would be awesome if I'd be able to talk to my relatives in India through Miiverse if availible, but for China, they should release the Wii U and 3DS there to increase sales and get to meet sales targets, because China is such a big country, just a thought........



freaksloan said:

The Middle Class in China, Brazil and India is a hell of lot different than the Middle Class in Japan, UK and the USA.



Yorumi said:

I'm kind of curious what makes them think they can sell consoles and games in china. With the level of piracy and copyright infringement going on there I can't imagine it's a great market.



Liquid_ice said:

@Nintenjoe64 That could actually work. Wii Mini is a good console for its price, so slightly different (maybe even more powerful?) version with some free games with it could be brilliant for China and developing countries.

That said, I think a handheld would be a lot better idea. Some people don't own a television, so a handheld could be able to sell a lot more.



King47 said:

I don't care if they do this so long as their game development remains focused on their main consoles.
I fear that Nintendo will succeed with this and try to capitalize too much on it that they would hurt their main fans. Like how they now try to make everything casual gamer friendly after finding success with the wii and the ds.



Action51 said:

I think Nintendo's back catalog is their trump card here, along with years of producing hardware that's rather cost effective and durable.

I think marketing something like Wii fit to a market like India where yoga originated and people culturally have an almost spiritual emphasis on physical health might be huge.

Will be interesting.



ikki5 said:

" For us, Microsoft's approach wouldn't work."

What.... is the approach Microsoft is using?



unrandomsam said:

The only sensible use for the region lock is for markets like China. Treating them as not deserving I don't think will be a successful thing.



HopeNForever said:

I wonder what this means to another obscure emerging market for video games, notably known as the Middle East. It's a mixed bag, in my opinion though, because whilst the Middle East usually looked on as a region, contrary to popular Western belief each country within that region works very differently from the others.

Anyway, I'm interested how Nintendo will approach mainland China for starters. They already have the iQue 3DS XL selling, with a few retail games, notably Nintendo-published titles, and a gradually growing library of eShop games too!



Liquid_ice said:

I don't know why, but I really like cheap products from Nintendo. I currently own Wii Mini and Game Boy Micro, both of which work great! Of course, they're nothing compared to some other models, but they do work! They're simple and only have the most important things, which I sort of appreciate.



CaptMcCloudAran said:

WiiU costs around U$ 600 here in Brazil, mainly because of unfair taxes. But even so the middle class is purchasing. What we need is more games and more marketing.



Handy_Man said:

I'm predicting that it will be a 3DS or Wii U with limited functionality, which would go under a different moniker, much like how the Nintendo 64 became the iQue player in China. All they would be able to do is play retail games, and lack the features that we have with those systems here in the states, Europe, and Japan. That should reduce the cost significantly.



DualWielding said:

This shows Nintendo is clueless, being from middle class in a third world country myself I know trying to selling an inferior product is a terrible idea (people can easily find in an internet what they are missing and will resent it)

Plus global branding is always better



ricklongo said:

@ferthepoet Pretty much this. The last generation of consoles sold incredibly well in Brazil, and current consoles, while extremely expensive in stores, can be had for a fraction of the official price from eBay-like websites. I don't think emerging economies need dedicated hardware that is subpar when compared to the company's top of the line, and ESPECIALLY not in the age of the internet. It just won't work.



Sakura said:

So this is what the rumours about new hardware were based on! Why didn't they just say when they quashed the idea of new hardware being unveiled at E3?



LztheQuack said:

I truly do not see Microsoft succeeding with the Xbox One as it is. It is WAY too expensive for the Chinese "middle class"



Rect_Pola said:

Does anybody else see the "Let's make gamers out of groups that we ignored before" play they made with Wii?



DualWielding said:


I dunno, the PS3 sold well with the Chinese middle class and it was more expensive that the Xbone is...... Microsofts main problem with China is the same they have with most other countries that are not the U.S., they have made so big fuz about their media features and stuff like fantasy football which is not available outside the U.S. that people outside the U.S. are mad at the fact that they have to pay same or more for less features



mipaol said:

I'd wager the new console will be handheld, perhaps a modified version of the 2DS.



opeter said:

If the big N drops the tablet-gamepad from Wii U "Light" or whatever it will be called in the future, I will buy it, if it has a resonable price of course.



Dark-Link73 said:

@PorllM Is just that the way Iwata expressed his idea (or perhaps the way he was quoted in this article) makes it seem that in order for people in middle class to buy Nintendo products, such products need to be affordable to them; and that's why they are coming out with a new line of hardware (It would be difficult to enter those markets if we didn't create something new... For the mass market you need to provide something that most of the middle class can afford).

Therefore, Iwata is saying that Wii U and 3DS might be too expensive for the middle class. Based on that rationale, it seems he has a misconception of middle class around the world. In NA, the approximate salary range for middle class is $50,000 to $100,000USD a year. Clearly NA middle class can afford a Wii U and 3DS.

Instead of saying that they want to make as new line of products "...that most middle class can afford..." he should've said something in the lines of the region as a whole instead of an economic group. Perhaps he should've just stayed away from making any socioeconomic remark.

I'm just thinking from a PR perspective. You know how the press loves to take comments out of context and twist them in a negative way.



PorllM said:

@Dark-Link73 I understand what you mean but I think the rationale behind it is that "middle class" in emerging markets such as Brazil and India would be much lower than it is in NA, Europe, Japan etc. Whether that's true or not is a different matter but I thibk that's what they're thinking.



Minotaurgamer said:

@Dark-Link73 yeah you know that the world doesn't revolve around you? or that 99% of the gamers in here, inlcuding you, are actually more of a niche compared to mainstream audiences that won't buy a game or a console until there's something that attracts them or gives them sometghing useful in return?

Gamers. always short-sighted and selfish.



Minotaurgamer said:

@ferthepoet The PS3 was never released formally in there. It was only available in undergound gray markets and only some gamers with money could have. They are like 10% or less of the population that can do that. A game, in order to truly succeed, needs to go to the 90% mainly.



Dark-Link73 said:

@PorllM Yeah, because I'm from Texas and what I think is middle class and you think is middle class are two completely different middle classes!

Lol! American joke.



K-Gamer said:

Actually a very smart idea on his part, Microsoft entering with that expensive Xbone wasn't very smart.



Dark-Link73 said:

@minotaurgamer Before I give you my rebuttal, I must ask first: Are you calling me shortsighted and selfish or are you using "you" (repeatedly I may add) in the context of your comment in a general way thus, directed to all other gamers in general?



Dragoon04 said:

@Dark-Link73 I get your point about the wording used. Middle class is a very vague term. but in context I believe it is a very fair word to use.

I come from South Africa and in Dollars I earn about $12 000 a year.

I own a wiiu and I am responsibly well off. But middle class is the word we use.



Dragoon04 said:

Nintendo always seems to think very laterally about things. It is great actually. Microsoft just shovels their product into a new market and see what happens.



tj3dsXL said:

iQue 3dsxl = ONLY NONREGION (UNLOCKED) unit made so far !!!!! Thats under the rugged swept too !



TheRealThanos said:

@ikki5 Simply releasing the Xbox One in China, as if anyone over there can afford one...
@everyone to all people that keep rehashing the idiocy of "Nintendo is clueless" and "Nintendo is going to shoot itself in the foot" please get a life or at the very least consider what you're on about. Let's all be honest about it: NONE of us know what is going on inside the Nintendo offices or board room, so all this often times highly negative speculation is pretty much useless, especially if you don't know anything about sales, marketing or finances. Having an opinion is perfectly fine, but none of us should pretend to have Nintendo's crystal ball sat on their desk. At the very least show it's your opinion by saying so instead of posting things as though they are facts...
The decision to make a budget console might actually a pretty sound one, because there are a lot of rip-off consoles over there and if you can actually get an official Nintendo system for a reasonable price that plays Nintendo's own high quality games instead of some 2D rip-off of a Wiimote game, then this may very well become a huge hit. As for what it could be: I tend to lean more towards an HD model of the original Wii, because the hardware has become cheaper and they can use a hardware up-scaling chip inside the console to make the games look better. Those games could then just be the whole Wii range of titles, that have already been published and could be either slightly edited before they are re-published/localized, or just upscaled by the hardware afterwards. It will not be a Wii, Wii Mini or Wii U since Iwata said it will be NEW hardware, so it must be something entirely different. And an HD remodeling of the Wii might just be that new console. It would then be a lot cheaper than a Wii U and the games on offer could also be cheap. Heck, many Wii titles have already been published again for a lower price under the "Nintendo Selects" label. Or maybe it will be a cartridge based console, just like the original iQue or the iQue 3DS...



JaxonH said:


I've been having a hard time finding solid numbers on this, but from what I've researched, none of Sony's consoles have ever released in mainland China. The closest proximity they have released is in Hong Kong.

Nintendo has a brand of console called iQue player which is like a stripped down, censored version of their N64 console. It retails for $60 and has been the predominant force in home console sales in China. Although, Nintendo did release it's DSi in China in 2009, but I can't find any hard numbers for the system. Apparently PC gaming has picked up quite a bit during this 13 year console ban in China, though the government censors online gaming and enforces time limits.

Point being, the PS3 has not been sold to the Chinese middle class. The PS3 hasn't been sold to any Chinese class because of the 13 year console ban in place, notwithstanding purchases in Hong Kong or black market sales. Nintendo's iQue player is the only exception to fit within the constraints of the ban and as such has dominated the market.

Taking into account the iQue player is priced at $60, I think it's a fair bet that a $500 (US) console isn't going to go over too well with the Chinese public. Idk what MS is thinking with that one. Nintendo's got the right idea here...



Zombie_Barioth said:

I get what your saying but keep in mind Iwata is talking about emerging markets specifically here. The quote itself is just missing a bit of context.

"It would be difficult to enter those markets if we didn't create something new... For the mass market you need to provide something that most of the middle class can afford."

He isn't saying the 3DS or Wii U is too expensive for the middle-class in general. What hes saying is they aren't going to just release those consoles in those regions mostly unchanged (and full price) like Microsoft, but rather cater specifically to that those markets and whats reasonable for their middle-class.



Dark-Link73 said:

@Zombie_Barioth "He isn't saying the 3DS or Wii U is too expensive for the middle-class in general."

Actually that's exactly what he's saying about those regions: " need to provide something that most of the middle class can afford."



GamerFromJump said:

I can tell you that most gaming in China is PC and mobile. In Hong Kong, include the PSP. I'm not sure if consoles can break in here.



thatguyEZ said:

I feel like it will be a Wii U 'Lite' or something along those lines. Something to keep the hardware costs down so that it will be able to reach more Chinese citizens. I think this is where Ninty has an inherent advantage over the Xbone in China because I don't see MS dropping the Kinect or really doing anything to keep the cost down over there.



andrea987 said:

Agree, it should be a Wii U 'lite' that plays same software, and maybe make the gamepad smaller and cheaper available to buy separately.



TheAdza said:

If Nintendo dev teams are going to be spread even more thinly making games for even more systems, then I am not happy about this decision. They have a hard enough time making enough 1st party software for the 3DS and Wii U at the same time without all this other faffing about in emerging countries. Just make cheaper versions of already released hardware. A Wii U without a Gamepad springs to mind. As well as a 2D 3DS still with the clamshell design. Or even make a HD Wii. Littlest effort, more games, makes sense. This is probably why Nintendo aren't doing it that way. It makes too much sense.



Escher said:

"consumers with lower incomes and less gaming experience than those in developed countries;" ?
Here in Brazil we are heavy gamers, if the Big N release something that is not equal or superior to the actual consoles as PS4 and X-ONE, IT WILL FAIL HARD!



BetweenTheTrees said:

it will be something mediocre. mediocre controls, graphics, price and games. with a basic snes like controller.



TheRealThanos said:

@Zombie_Barioth because he's taking your comment (and parts of the text from the article) out of context. You are right, it is clearly directed towards Chinese middle-class, since that is the whole point of the statement: the newly emerging console market in China. And all it takes is a bit of comprehensive reading, but I guess not everyone is capable of that...
@Escher the target audience is China, NOT Brazil. You already gave the answer yourself because if a lot of people in Brazil are playing video games, then you are hardly "an emerging market" as stated in the article, which also mentions China, by the way...

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