Fund manager argues Nintendo should “buy its way into” iPhone and other smartphones

Bloomberg reports that investors are starting to argue Nintendo should ditch its Nintendo-only stance and offer games for other platforms:

“Smartphones are the new battlefield for the gaming industry,” said Ohki, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Stats Investment Management Co. “Nintendo should try to either buy its way into this platform or develop something totally new.”

I’ve criticised Nintendo quite a bit recently, but I also suggested the company has multiple options regarding how to continue. One of them would be to do a Sega and go multiplatform, but that would almost certainly kill Nintendo’s (usually) profitable hardware line dead. The Nintendo ecosystem is a differentiator, an Apple-like take within the gaming industry. It’s potentially a benefit, not detrimental. The problem Nintendo faces is Apple itself’s now a competitor, and so the Japanese gaming giant needs to repsond to a changing market.

I don’t think this means suddenly releasing iSuper Mario Bros. or iMario Kart (although if Nintendo did, Angry bloody Birds would be off of the top of the charts for good), but it does mean changing its stance relating to game distribution and embracing more indies. Ultimately, Nintendo needs to stop remembering the good ol’ days of expensive bits of plastic and figure out how to rip off the App Store. Make Nintendo games cheaper and more easily accessible and ensure there are more of them, and there’s a good chance the 3DS’s successor won’t be the hardware equivalent of throwing in the towel. But carry on with ‘more of the same’ and trying to convince handheld gamers to part with 30 to 50 quid for a single game in 2013 and you’ll be on a hiding to nothing.

August 11, 2011. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, Nintendo DS, Opinions, Technology

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Nintendo realises Apple threat and will challenge in digital downloads… within three years

This one passed me by, so thanks to Wired for pointing out this gem from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata:

In my mind, I would like to make the presence of the Nintendo eShop much larger in three years [sic] time.

Three years? Really? Nintendo needs to be working on digital now. It needs to be competing with the might of the App Store now. If it doesn’t, the presence of Nintendo regarding digital downloads in three years won’t be on the eShop, but will be on the App Store.

August 4, 2011. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, Nintendo DS, Opinions


A helpful translation of Nintendo’s Ambassador program for 3DS details

I already today translated Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata’s apology regarding the 3DS, but I realised I wasn’t done. After all, Nintendo hasn’t just apologised to early adopters, but it also unveiled the Ambassador program.

Great Price, Great Games

Finally Somewhat Competitive Price, Not Enough Games!

Nintendo of America today announced plans to drop the suggested retail price of its portable Nintendo 3DS™ system to $169.99 in the United States. The new price takes effect Aug. 12 and makes an outstanding value even better.

Our console wasn’t selling so we’re now getting desperate. Maybe by Christmas, we’ll be giving it away for free.

Building on the popularity of The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D, which launched June 19, the upcoming game calendar for Nintendo 3DS is a Who’s Who of iconic video game franchises. Star Fox 64™ 3D arrives on Sept. 9, followed by Super Mario™ 3D Land in November, Mario Kart™ 7 in December and Kid Icarus™: Uprising during the holiday season.

Look! We’ll be releasing at least three games before Christmas, based on really old series that you’ve played to death! No other console has such a range of games, according to our exhaustive research!

And don’t forget that Nintendo 3DS has a bunch of fun features, including Nintendo Video™, the Nintendo eShop and access to Netflix, that make it a must-have video game system.

Also, luckily, no other handheld system has any access to videos, otherwise we’d be totally screwed about now! Phew!

But what about the 830,000 of you who already own a Nintendo 3DS?

Man, we really wish we could have put a ‘5’ in front of that ‘830,000’.

You’re some of Nintendo’s most loyal customers

And, presumably, are fiercely questioning that decision.

and we’re rewarding you for getting in on the action early with not one


not 10


but 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop!

Wow! 20 free downloadable games! Hurrah!

Here’s how it works:  The 20 free games are available to anyone who owns a Nintendo 3DS system and uses a wireless broadband Internet signal to connect to the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Aug. 11.

We don’t care enough to extend this offer indefinitely.

1. Starting Sept. 1, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge and before they are available in the Nintendo eShop to the general public.

Free NES games to use when you’re not playing your 3DS updates of N64 updates of SNES updates of NES games!

2. By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi’s Island™: Super Mario™ Advance 3, Mario Kart™: Super Circuit, Metroid™ Fusion, WarioWare™, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong™. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.

We don’t currently have any plans, but please don’t read any of our press releases after August 11! KTHANKSBYE!

August 4, 2011. Read more in: Gaming, News, Nintendo DS, Opinions


A translation of Nintendo CEO’s apology to early 3DS adopters

Via TechCrunch, Satoru Iwata’s apology to 3DS owners:

This unprecedented timing for a price cut is because the situation has changed greatly since we originally launched the 3DS.

We copied those smartphone guys in laughing off the threat from Apple. Man, I wish we’d paid attention to what actually happened to those smartphone guys.

We decided it was necessary to take this drastic step in order to ensure that large numbers of users will continue to enjoy the 3DS in the future.

The 3DS? Yeah, that’s screwed. Maybe if we do a fire-sale more people will buy one.

If the software creators and those on the retail side are not confident that the Nintendo 3DS is a worthy successor to the DS and will achieve a similarly broad (user) base, it will be impossible for the 3DS to gain popularity, acquire a wide range of software, and eventually create the product cycle necessary for everyone to be satisfied with the system.

It’s really really screwed.

We feel a strong responsibility to develop the 3DS as a platform

Although not enough of a responsibility to come up with any new ideas for games.

— to ensure that, in the end, everyone is satisfied; we will make every effort to do so.

Unless we have to make some new ideas for games.

Additionally, we know everyone is waiting for Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7.

Like we said, we’re not big on new ideas for games.

They are scheduled for release in November and December, respectively

Nor are we that big on rushing recycling our existing properties.

Man, I hope we don’t end up like those Sega guys…

August 4, 2011. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, News, Nintendo DS, Opinions, Technology


What should Nintendo do after the 3DS to safeguard its future in handheld gaming?

In case you’re not keeping up regarding Nintendo, things aren’t looking good. From dominating the handheld space a few short years ago, it’s now found itself in the position of finding its older handheld (the DS) outselling its newer model (the 3DS) by nearly two-to-one, and the new console having its price slashed, in an attempt to boost poor sales across the entire range. The company’s CEO has taken a 50 per cent pay cut, and Nintendo doesn’t seem to have any big answers to Apple’s iOS and even Sony, matching Apple in making genuinely multifunctional devices.

To my mind, Nintendo has the following options:

  • Dig in. Nintendo has said it believes that dedicated gaming units are still the way forward. It could produce a follow-up to the 3DS (perhaps the Game Boy 2, to leverage that still-loved brand), but this would be a high-risk strategy. It’s increasingly common for kids to be armed with iPods, and once they have one, dedicated units look limited by comparison (especially those largely utilising physical media).
  • Follow the crowd. Nintendo could fight back against Apple and Sony by nicking their best ideas. Have the next Nintendo console, at the very least, be fantastic online (for browsing, not just multiplayer games), work well as a media player, and have a top-notch games and apps list, which are largely available via download and for a more affordable price than existing Nintendo games. This has less risk in the sense of future-proofing, but Nintendo would have to take great care to differentiate.
  • Do something entirely different. Apple—the company, remember, in part responsible for the Apple Pippin—largely blindsided Nintendo in handheld gaming. Apple didn’t design the iPod as a gaming unit, but it did design iOS devices as something different to what existed at the time. A combination of factors then led to devs and gamers flocking to the platform. Is Nintendo capable of creating something so awe-inspiring, new and innovative (rather than welding a 3D gimmick to an existing console) that it could go for this option? I’d like to think so, because while it’s also high-risk, it offers plenty of rewards if the Japanese giant got it right. And it’s not like Nintendo’s been bereft of new and exciting ideas in the past.

Whichever path Nintendo chooses, I think it’s got one more shot at this, before it finds itself in the same position as Sega around the time of the Dreamcast. If that ever happens, the company ends up with option four, which I’m sure it would never want to do:

  • Be like Sega. Nintendo could give up on hardware entirely and go software-only in the handheld space, either with lucrative exclusive deals with a single platform, or by casting the net wide. Imagine if Super Mario Bros., MarioKart and other famous Nintendo brands were to officially exist for iOS. Angry Birds would be ousted from the number-one spot for good—those birds and pigs would never know what hit them. But this would come at a price—the ability to control the hardware and software, and to innovate when it comes to making new hardware. That said, given how regularly Nintendo recycles its famous IP, this wouldn’t necessarily be a poor option, especially for gamers.

August 1, 2011. Read more in: Apple, Gaming, News, Nintendo DS, Opinions


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