When analysts talk about the #1 threat Nintendo faces in the coming years, they don’t go to Sony or Microsoft. Instead, they think about smartphones and other mobile “smart” devices, which are becoming increasingly popular gaming devices. Nintendo doesn’t see smartphones purely as competitors, however; they also see mobile devices as their allies. That’s because Miiverse, their social gaming network, will be available for mobile devices alongside Wii U and 3DS.
Because of this, smartphones will actually increase Nintendo’s exposure, just as they did for the Nintendo Direct presentations, and Nintendo believes that they’ll be able to get more people to communicate about games and play together.
Read on for Mr. Iwata’s full comments on Nintendo embracing the mobile revolution.
Smartphones and tablet devices, collectively “smart devices,” have been exerting a strong influence on various things around the world. It has already been said that the evolution of smart devices would affect car navigation systems and digital cameras as well as dedicated gaming platforms. In other words, the focus of the discussion has been whether multi-purpose devices, with which you can do various things, can drive dedicated devices out of the market or not.
I think it totally incorrect to discuss the influence of smart devices and social games together as one topic, and I always try to distinguish between the two. Smart devices have both pros and cons for our business. Take the “Animal Crossing: New Leaf Direct” video I mentioned before, for instance, those who are interested in the Animal Crossing series, but are not aware of Nintendo Direct might have seen a tweet about the video and the link to it on their Twitter timeline and actually accessed it on their smartphone. In this context, smartphones are nothing but our friend.
On the other hand, some say that they do not need dedicated gaming systems because they can play a number of games for free or for 85 yen each on smartphones. We believe that neither Nintendo nor dedicated gaming systems are worthy of existence unless our games give consumers unparalleled fun, which games for free or for 85 yen do not supply.
As I referred to before, when i-mode for cell phones started in Japan, many people said that, as application software including games worked on cell phones, everyone would play games only with their cell phones because they are practical items they always carry, which would eventually eliminate handheld gaming devices. We were asked about this matter many times and answered that we would try something that cannot be done on cell phones. After that, we were able to see the positive result of the Nintendo DS system.
On the other hand, it can be said that the fact that Nintendo DS was able to demonstrate the new potential of touch screens, and as a result, created our new rivals called smart devices, I really feel that history is repeating itself. Above all, we have two things to do: to offer consumers gaming experiences which smart devices cannot realize and to actively try to make smart devices our allies, not our enemies.
Please let me tell you why Nintendo is making a strong effort for “Miiverse,” how it will change our platforms and how it will relate to smart devices.
As “Miiverse” is not confined to dedicated gaming platforms and will be available on smart devices in the near future, we hope that, even on a train where many people are using smart devices, you will know how your gaming friends are enjoying their games. Our consumers are not confined to the people who actively search for information on video games to find the next game to enjoy and typically never fail to see Nintendo Direct once they become aware of it.
After the expansion of the gaming population, due to Nintendo DS and Wii, I referred to our challenge of helping consumers find the next game to play in our Financial Results Briefings. We had tried various actions and were able to show some results, but unfortunately we could not come up with the perfect answer. Then the use rate of the hardware gradually decreased and people were starting to stop playing games during the gap period between releases of highly-anticipated game titles. This is the problem all gaming platforms faced, not only Nintendo DS and Wii.
However, if you have more friends to play games with, you will inevitably have more chances to encounter new games. What is more, this will be caused not by publishers’ advertisements, but visualization of the feelings of those you have empathized with. As there are many excellent but buried games in the world, and you must be impressed by some of them, the important mission of “Miiverse” is to create opportunities to let you know about such games without spending our finite advertising budget on it.
To sum up, we hope that “Miiverse,” where you can emphasize with others about video games, will work to increase the fun of each game and keep the high use rate of the hardware even while new big titles are unavailable. For this to happen, we need to involve smart devices as well as dedicated gaming platforms. “Miiverse” will increase the number of opportunities the user will experience of finding the next game to play and therefore create a business environment with potentially more game sales.
Various people pointed out that playing Wii games alone was not as fun as playing them in a group. For Wii U, even when you are not with your family or friends, you can play games connected to various people around the world through “Miiverse.” We are aiming to have consumers enjoy Wii U with people even when they are physically alone. We believe that this is what we should do in this period when smartphones and tablet devices have spread. We are not considering selling the software we released in the past for smartphones and tablet devices.