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.