Mario, Luigi, Link, Zelda, Donkey Kong and the stable of classic Nintendo video game characters may finally be coming to smartphones. The gaming company dropped its long-held aversion to mobile games via a new deal with DeNA Co., a fellow Japanese game provider. The companies will exchange ownership stakes and create a new mobile game platform. While Nintendo said that all of its intellectual property and characters "will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance," only new, original games optimized for smartphones and tablets will be created. Nintendo will not port games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system to smartphones. Nintendo and DeNA will launch a new game distribution portal this fall, and smartphone users, PCs and Nintendo console owners will be able to access it.
The deal represents a major step for Nintendo to maintain relevance in mobile, especially at a time when Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is seeking to create more synergies between its Xbox gaming console and smartphones and tablets running its forthcoming Windows 10 platform. Nintendo's aversion to mobile gaming has cost it dearly at a time when more gaming is shifting from consoles to smartphones and tablets. "The company seems to have totally changed its mindset, after having resisted against mobile game development, publicly complained about the low quality of content in mobile and played down its role in the game world overall," Serkan Toto, a Tokyo-based game consultant, told the Wall Street Journal. "This is about the most drastic, bold shift in strategy Nintendo could have undertaken." Release