Much of the focus around Nintendo's announcement of a partnership with DeNA has been on the prospect of the big N's IP appearing on mobile, perhaps overlooking various other aspects. One of these is the perspective of the deal for DeNA itself, and the services the company will offer beyond making Mario games for iOS.
GamesBeat spoke to DeNA West CEO Shintaro Asako for his perspective on the deal, reflecting on how it's a partnership as important to the mobile services firm as it is for Nintendo. Though the company has achieved success and has produced content for clients such as Disney, it's not among the elite of companies in the smart device game space. Its ambition to be at the top of its market made Nintendo a target for its expansion.
Internally, we had a lot of strategic meetings. The one big solution was always that there's a giant IP holder in the market that hasn't stepped into the smartphone environment. Really, the reason they were convinced that they wanted to work with us was that we were so determined to work with them that we have really been talking to them since 2010. Yes, we were talking to them for a long, long time.
Finally, Nintendo became ready to do this. And we were ready the whole time.
It seems that Nintendo, led by Satoru Iwata, may have been most impressed by DeNA's long term approach, considering the broader picture over quick fixes. That's a philosophy that certainly seems to tie-in with Nintendo's work.
One thing that we're always thinking about is how can we build a structural advantage over other people. When you look at other successful companies, like King or Supercell, a lot of them are using one successful title and then using that game engine for other titles. I think the people out there see that as not really a strong structure to be successful for a long time.
Our approach was more about looking at their strengths, and then looking at our strengths, and when we get together we can do something bigger. Our initial discussions were around memberships and backend systems. Through this discussion we said that if we build this backend, we should obviously work on a game. And if we're making a game, we should use Nintendo IPs.
As we argued in an editorial about the deal, that structural and networking expertise of DeNA could be hugely valuable to Nintendo, which has a mixed track record with its online services. Asako-san said the following.
Looking at successful players like King or Supercell, they have a massive user base, and they're very successful at creating content. But they haven't really built a backend system in the way we have done, and I think that's the key part. When you look at successful players in the mobile gaming space today, not many of them have created backend platform systems.
Not many people talk about this but DeNA created the platform called Mobage. Also, we started our business in VC business — that was basically a platform. DeNA has been focused on mobile platform business, with one of them happened to be games.
Backend is not something people see every day. We're willing to help them build that really sophisticated backend structure. It is not a sexy part. But we're willing to do it.
Beyond that, like any business DeNA wants notable success, and sees Nintendo IPs as a route to significant downloads. Asako-san stated that it's not about a rush to lots of mobile game releases, but expressed hope that products from the deal can hit the 100 million DAU (Daily Average Users) mark.
I've wanted to create something globally successful, not only for kids, but for mid-aged people and beyond. The game should attract a huge range of people. We wanted to get a huge audience like Candy Crush — like 100 million users. We wanted to create something with that kind of DAU [daily active user] base.
For this, I think the solution is not coming out with 10 or 20 games right away. We should pick the right game. We should actually create a smartphone-specific game that requires day-to-day social interaction. It's not just porting a Wii U game out to smartphones. But actually properly design a smartphone game.
I think with the strong IPs they [Nintendo] have, and their strong game operation expertise we have, I don't think we're dreaming [about reaching] 100 million DAU. And by having that we can do — we wanted to get there. I think that King has that network today. With Nintendo, there's a huge possibility of that.
So, what do you think about these comments from a member of DeNA's senior management? Let us know.
So it's confirmed iOS only or you guys are just ignoring Android like in other DeNA articles?
I really hope they release on android. I'm not forking over cash for an Apple product just to play Nintendo games. I didn't even want a smart phone until I was forced to upgrade after my flip phone broke I have literally zero games on my smart phone, but I must be in the minority. I would buy some quality Nintendo games, but I'm not necessarily excited for them.
@NinjaWaddleDee Yes, I agree with you.
@outburst smartphones and tablets...nowhere it said its iOS only.
after hearing them talk about it i do feel better about it, they arent just spamming games, they are taking their time and are looking to make a game thats both a nintendo game and a good mobile game.
i suspect animal crossing would be an easy sell on mobile
EDIT: Not saying i'll rush to buy anything, If i want a Nintendo game i'll play it on a nintendo system
Argh, stop posting these with an emulator screenshot...
@outburst In an earlier article, it seemed like it would be for iOS and Android (not likely Windows or Blackberry, though).
Well it seems like they have a plan, so thats goods. And it's better to think big than think small.
Though now they have me wondering if Nintendo will let them play on their own hardware utilizing cloud saves? Play the game on your 3DS during your commute to and from work, play for a bit during your coffee break on your phone, then play on your Wii U when you get home.
And there's still the PC angle which I haven't seen discussed. Will the games be playable on Facebook? (oh god how I hope not) Or maybe on Play Ntinedo?
These games wont be virtual console games nor will they be any other games available on a Nintendo console so don't get your hopes up. The iOS games will be small games more like Pokemon Shuffle and things like that with Nintendo characters.
@GH05T Yeah, what this guy said. Which is also why they might not do as well. Though they could just make a "Super Mario Runner" and probably sell 10 billion copies for $1 each.
I think iOS is just used generically in the article.
No one would just think iOS anymore. Google Play (Android) has pass iOS in some markets, so you need both eco-systems.
Just don't look for this to be on Windows Mobile. 8*>
More to the point of the article, if DeNA has been discussing this deal for five years and not turned away, it means it has long-term interest which is what is needed and what will be best for Nintendo.
I have to agree with the comment above - Animal Crossing would be a good call for mobile. The controls are simple, it's a relaxed game which you can dip in and out of and the nature of the game demands that you check in often. This is why it's been so successful on handheld - a device that you can carry with you. You always have your mobile to hand so this makes it a perfect platform for this game. Integrate some social media functions and maybe some online events or whatever and you could have a winner. You could have in game purchases for furniture etc (although personally I can't stand in app purchases) to make some extra coin.
I've tried emulators on my phone before and have had mixed results (note that all the games I play on emulators I have purchased on their original systems and often on virtual console/reissues) The touch screen is a poor substitute for a real controller for many games (side note my previous phone - an HTC Desire Z - had a physical keyboard and I specifically bought it so I could map the keys for emulation and that worked great for NES/SNES/Master system/Mega-drive/Game boy etc) so it'l be interesting to see how Nintendo adapt their franchises for touch control.
@rjejr After listening to the entire Q&A im pretty certain that these Mobile games will not be playable on Nintendo's other consoles. So the idea of playing on 3ds and then conitnuing on smratphone is not something i expect. Unless the smartphone game is a minigame tie-in.
My inital guess is that the NX will be a device that can plug into whatever smartdevice you have. i.e. its a console without a screen. You plug your cartridge into the NX and play on whatever screen you want. These same cartridges will work on nintendo's dedicated handheld also.
I could see nintendo having 3 products: 1. Home console with tablet. 2. the tablet is also fully independent (acts as a handheld with cartridge slot). 3 NX which is console without screen.
@XCWarrior And then they have the same problems that other companies are starting to have. That their branding doesn't mean anything anymore and people stop caring.
I don't think the standard phone-gaming audience is the Nintendo audience anyway.
The stocks jumping 21% is so typical for all this. Short lived hype. Then the first game flops and it falls 40%.
"When you look at other successful companies, like King or Supercell [...]"
@eLarkos - "After listening to the entire Q&A"
Isn't that cheating?
I suppose you're right though, if Nintendo wants to keep the quality separate it needs to keep the games separate.
I think your mad though if you think Apple is going to let any external device plug into it's "i" devices to play games off of. Or connect via bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They call it a "walled garden" for a reason. iTunes or no play. No disrespect, but your entire idea sounds like its the opposite direction of where the industry is headed w/ streaming from the cloud. Buy once play anywhere is the future, but anywhere may be limited to Nintendo hardware.
@mike_intv I dont think you necessarily need both ecosystems. most of the money is still made on iOS
I'm all for it.
The more "proper" they make it for the smart phone market, the easier it is for me to ignore it.
They want to turn Nintendo IP into games that you download play for 5 min and then forget, this is not good for game quality... 😢😢😢
@eLarkos do you mean a cartridge? As in physical copy of a game? I am thinking that the next round of consoles will be digital only, make no mistake, used games take a lot of profit from the big three. GameStop will change as we know it the day physical copies die. I love physical copies, but it is very detrimental to the original publishers profits to have used copies floating around.
You don't know much about mobile games, do you?
Try Google and check out the companies behind the 10 most successful titles and it will probably read something like King, Supercell, King, King, Supercell...
This is strange. They should have mostly original games.
Because right now a lot of people have emulators for the phones, and im not sure if people would want to switch over.
@rjejr Yea, true that. Apple will definitely not allow for it. In terms of cloud, I dont think nintendo will be all digital next gen (although it will be a heavy push). But yea, we can throw my idea out the window.
@eLarkos - "this all runs through a nintendo app"
See, now that I believe, NX is an app, which is why they invested so heavily in DeNA, they want that cross platform playability, even on Apple devices. And no, Nintneod is far from all digital, but the gaming industry as a whole is getting closer and closer, so by next gen every game Nintnedo sells should be available digitally, even if the major games continue to also get disc and cartridge releases.
@rjejr I deleted half my comment because even now Im not a believer. There will most certainly be an app, but I dont think its going to be running anything other than mobile games. Nintendo is not going to have its "Console games" run off the cloud or be downloaded into the app and depend on the power of the persons smart device. Hmm now im stumped as to what NX could be... I know I bragged about the entire Q&A thing but now I cant remember if it was stated if NX is hardware or not.
@eLarkos - Nintnedo never states anything, accept release dates which always turn out to be wrong. Whatever Nitneod may have said NX was yesterday will be very different from what actually hits the public in a year or two.
Yeah all of this makes it sound like an app only. Not really games, but if they did have games it would be amazing.
Please don't adventise your blog here.- MorphMarron
Wow, DeNA was persistant over a long period of time about this. This is good. Hopefully it means they can put enough love into whatever they are planning to make it good, and above all, successful. Here's hoping.
God I hope it's not iOS exclusive. I'm not paying $599 for a phone in any lifetime. If they will support Android at launch, I will definitely trade off my Windows phone and get a nice Galaxy or something.
Good to see they realize smartphones games are genre of gaming. Not a replacement. thank yoU !
@NinjaWaddleDee @outburst considering Mobage is their platform for iPhones and Android, I would expect games to be on their Mobage platform for both devices. maybe on other devices as well (Windows phone would be funny).
@Monsti First game won't flop. It will make back their money. Might not be a huge massive success, but it will make money. It's Nintendo. They have branding over just about any other video game company.
100 million users a day thing is stupid though. 5 million, sure.
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