Nintendo: Smartphone Gaming
Nintendo has had a rough day today and I am sorry but this is an article that will make things a bit more rough for them. I have to ask but Nintendo do you hate money? Now, I agree this is a ridiculous question to ask any company but Nintendo has been making some very bizarre moves; one of which is going to be discussed in this article. Why hasn’t Nintendo invaded the mobile phone space?
One of the perks of being around since the invention of the wheel, Nintendo has got some classic games in their vault. But Nintendo really seems reluctant to uses these games to make as much profit as possible. A big way to gain profit from old games is to release the classics on mobile devices. Nintendo, rather poo-pooed, the idea and said,
“you can’t get a true feel for Mario on smartphone or tablet, and this would also lead to a decrease in brand value over the long term” ( http://o.canada.com/2013/07... )
The big part of that quote isn’t the “true feel for Mario on smartphone” but the part about decreeing brand value. Nintendo thinks by releasing Nintendo games on other platforms it would decrease their exclusive value. They are not wrong on this. If Mario 64, New Super Mario Bros. U or a brand new Mario game was released on smartphones it could decrease the value of their systems (especially the latter one). But what about them raiding the vault? Could they actually have a beneficial effect for Nintendo? I propose Nintendo should release their NES and SNES games on the smartphone market.
The reason why I think this is a good move, for Nintendo, is it could be very profitable for them. They already have the game and the rights to that game; so all the development cost, that would be needed, is to convert these old games into ios and Android compatible games. This wouldn’t be too costly especially when you look at the market that clearly wants these games. Emulators are already on the market; giving users the ability to play old Nintendo games on their phones. There is clearly some desire to play Nintendo’s old franchises on smartphones. These games (in their vault) are not earning Nintendo anything at its current state.
But Nintendo did make a good point about “brand value”. However, I think brand value is lost on the consumers when it involves old games. Sure Mario is only played on Nintendo devices but Nintendo could get round this by doing what Sony(all be it half assed) has done . Sony released the PlayStation Mobile service in late 2012. This service is a smart phone store under the PlayStation brand. Originally only reserved for Sony devices, it has moved to Sony certified devices which includes the HTC One and its series. More recently Asus, Philips and Sharp have all jumped on the PlayStation Mobile service and are releasing certified devices. When I said Sony has done it half assed I meant they haven’t released any old PS1 games on it yet. But this point can still be valid in this Nintendo case as PlayStation is itself a brand. Having a PlayStation branded service on non-PlayStation devices hasn’t hurt Sony at all. In a way they are getting the PlayStation brand name out to more people through mobile devices. The PlayStation isn't being just associated with console games but it is becoming a juggernaut in the technological/service industry.
Nintendo have the opportunity to take this even further than Sony. What Nintendo has that Sony doesn’t have is games dating back twenty-five plus years ago. Nintendo are in a very unique position that could net them a large amount of money. If the released these old games under a Nintendo umbrella (i.e. like PlayStation Mobile) they could still retain the association that Nintendo needs to be involved for a Mario/Zelda game. I also think it will not harm future sales of their systems if these old games are released. It is all about how it is released. If Nintendo did release under this umbrella style service and call their games Super Mario bros. retro or Zelda classic they can still give the average consumer the image that these games are old and associated to Nintendo. I think this could help sales in the future
More and more children are playing smartphone games as more and more children are being given smartphones and tablets by their parents (to me this is ridiculous as I didn’t get my first phone till I was at least 12). But Nintendo could infiltrate and exploit the ever growing mobile market by releasing old games that these children (who may be new to gaming) will enjoy which in turn could make them pay more attention to a Nintendo system. We know the Wii U isn’t selling very well at the moment. There are lots of factors for this but one of them is the consumer just isn’t interested in the Wii U. Imagine just before Christmas your child has been playing Mario/Zelda non-stop on their phone. This parent then sees the Wii U has a Zelda/Mario game and decides to buy it for their children as they know they like Mario from playing it on a smartphone. I agree there is a lot of what ifs here but Nintendo need to take risks and in this case the two outcomes could give Nintendo a tidy profit.
Nintendo should be opening the door to this possibility and not ignorantly shutting it. Having old games on smartphones/tablets is a low cost with high potential profit yield for Nintendo if they do it right (having that Nintendo umbrella service which could link nicely with them connecting these old games to the Wii U in some way). Sony is sorting of making those first baby steps towards this notion of bringing old games to mobiles. It is about time Nintendo stop sniffing their own farts and look at this more seriously