Aug 12 AT 12:58 PM Anthony Domanico 50 Comments

It’s a tough time to be Nintendo lately, and a recent report by Bloomberg suggests Nintendo’s shareholders are angry about their business model. It’s no secret that sales of Nintendo’s Wii and 3DS gaming consoles are struggling as of late. And with the gaming industry less-than-impressed with the upcoming WiiU console, it appears shareholders want to see Nintendo take the business in a slightly different direction.

Seeing exponential growth in mobile gaming, Nintendo’s shareholders want Nintendo to begin developing games for mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS, in hopes of capturing a significant portion of this undertapped market. Though for now Nintendo seems to be balking at the idea, it’s puzzling as to why they’re doing so. As mobile smartphone devices continue to penetrate the market (with as many as 50% of new handsets purchased being smartphones), the same casual gamers that made the Wii console such a success are getting their fix of casual games by playing the likes of Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies on their Android or iOS devices.

With this trend toward mobile gaming, it’s unclear whether or not Nintendo will enjoy the same level of success with their upcoming WiiU as they’ve seen with the original Wii console. If casual gamers start replacing their gaming consoles with mobile devices, the stockholders may have a point; there may be a strong impetus on Nintendo to change their business strategy, if they’re going to continue to stay relevant in the gaming industry.

Nintendo’s games are household names, and you don’t have to look too far to find someone who grew up on the popular Mario or Zelda Nintendo games. Nintendo could make a killing by simply revamping some of the already-existing games from these series and optimizing them for tablets and smartphones. How many of you out there really wouldn’t pay $5-$10 to be able to play the Ocarina of Time on your device?

Sure, there are emulators out there that already allow you to do this, but Google is slowly but surely removing these applications from the Android market. Staples from the earlier days of Android such as NESoid, SNESoid, Gameboid and newer services like PSX4Droid and N64oid all were pulled by Google in recent months.

Better yet, what if Nintendo fully embraced mobile and jointly developed Android and iOS versions of the games they were working to bring to the Wii and 3DS? Would you pay $15-20 for a hot, new, high-quality Nintendo game?  Depending on the game, I sure as heck would, and I bet several of you out there would as well.

So what do others in the industry think Nintendo should do?


VentureBeat is taking the side of the stakeholders, arguing that Nintendo should fully embrace mobile if they are to succeed in the next generation of gaming. They go on to argue that Nintendo could take a two-tiered approach, saving the awesome games for the 3DS, where gamers are willing to spend $30-40 on a game, and build mobile games starring lesser-known characters, such as Wario and Bowser, for iOS and Android.

I agree that Nintendo should still invest time and money creating unique game experiences for 3DS. But the company needs to sell on the iPhone and Android too.Sean LudwigVentureBeat


TechCrunch is staunchly in Nintendo’s camp on this one, arguing that the shareholders are simply panicking as though they were Wall Street traders and that Nintendo can survive on the nostalgia and maintaining exclusivity on the Mario and Zelda games they’ve made so popular.

So what are shareholders really saying? To use a sports analogy, they’re telling Nintendo to trade their best players because of a down season. Nintendo’s real treasure isn’t the hardware or even the software, per se. It’s the good will, brand awareness, and nostalgia associated with their top games. Nintendo has more console exclusives than any other device manufacturer and they’re going to keep it that way for as long as they can, investors (hopefully) be damned.John BiggsTechCrunch

Final Thoughts

Honestly, I can see this one going either way. Though I think we can all agree that having Nintendo-backed games hit Android would be a welcome boost to Android gaming (and a time where we’d finally see games hit the market that are worth $10+), it is unclear whether or not Nintendo truly needs to go mobile in order to survive.

For now, it appears Nintendo is less than enthusiastic to move into the mobile market, other than what they’re doing with the 3DS. Perhaps in time we will see our beloved Nintendo games make their way onto Android, but I don’t think we’ll see this anytime before mid-2012 (if at all).

Your Thoughts

Where do you guys stand on this? Would you like to see Nintendo port some of its more popular games to Android? Would you be willing to spend $5 – $10 for a beloved Mario or Zelda game? Would you be interested to see some new Nintendo games developed specifically for Android/mobile?  Let us know in the comments.

Source: Bloomberg

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • keridel

    i would happily spend £5 on a retro game made by nintendo. zelda for sure mario 3 as soon as it was available!

    retro games in general would be amazing on any phone. when sony said they were making psone games available i was expecting them to be available more widely but nothing came of it


    come on nintendo give me Raccoon Mario!

  • marcoc2

    Just imagine the impact of Nintendo’s Pokémon on Android Market or Apple’s App Store

    • keridel

      especially if the pokemon was cross platformed so i could unleash squirtle on myiphone friends jigglypuff…..

      i may have just entered a rather geeky area….

  • Storm14K

    I understand why the won’t. To do so would mean failure. They are a console company. If they start only developing games then they loose the money they could be making off third party developers. If they develop directly for a platform then they tell the other devs they should be developing for that platform instead of theirs as well. Its a win for Android but a loss for Nintendo.

    • Anthony Domanico

      what if it were simply an expansion of their current software business rather than completely pulling out of hardware. they can still make the wiiU, just add android to the list of platforms to develop for.

      • travis mason

        it would be awesome if the wii-u touch pad controller would have android loaded in it…..that tablet would dominate

  • Interpol91

    I would love to see Nintendo port some of its classic games onto Android! I grew up on the Super Nintendo and N64 and the games I played on there are still my all time faves. It would be interesting to see them develop games specifically for Android but first give me Super Mario Bros!

  • irl Panda

    No one is going to “replace” their console with a smartphone. That’s like saying people are going to replace their desktop PC for a tablet. Each has its place, and while smartphone technology is rapidly increasing, so are PCs. I hate reading these types of articles.

    • keridel

      what type of articles? this one simply says nintendo dont want to make mobile games not that they should abandon their consoles

    • Anthony Domanico

      I have barely touched my ps3 since I started playing Tegra games, and I’m a hardcore gamer. The casual gamers are already playing angry birds on their phones/tablets rather than playing wii.

    • Eion

      Actually, if better apps were developed, tablets very well could replace desktops for most users. And while console and mobile games are certainly significantly different, for most people, just a smartphone is plenty enough.

  • Nicholas

    I can see how this is a good idea. However, if they were to make these games for smartphones their mobile gaming devices would take a huge hit. I am sure once they started, there would be a big demand for higher end Nintendo games one Android and iOS. In the end, killing their own hardware.

  • Tommy

    It would be foolish for Nintendo tot publish their AAA games on mobile platforms, they have no control of the user experience and touch controls are no match for real buttons if you want a deep gaming experience IMHO.

    What they could do is make simple mobile only games and/or develop a hybrid phone/console themselves.

  • SparkyXI

    I would rock Zelda III all friggin’ day long. That’s all there is to it.


    I was reading about this through various outlets and I am def interested. I’m am sure this would work on every level except price.. sure the older games would be great if kept below the ten dollar range. But me personally would not pay more than that. It will def make things more fun and interesting and hopefully bring some price competition among the bigger game developers

  • @neidlinger

    007 GoldenEye on my Android phone, tied to my PS3 controller and multiplayer over a wi-fi network?!?!?!


  • etschuetz

    Nintendo will not jump on board the Android or iOS bandwagon because there is no licensing kick back for them. Sure, they could sell their games, but it is ultimately Google or Apple making a bit of money off of Nintendo. Do you really think Nintendo is going to go for that?

    Here is MY prediction on what Nintendo would do.

    The Big N is going to develop their own Android powered device. One that will be similar to the Experia play in having a gaming pad involved, and other “innovative” methods of control. It will tie into a next gen console of sorts (similar to the WiiU). However, the one major deal is that this device will not include the Android market and will not allow side loading. We can’t have unlicensed games running on a Nintendo product after all!

    Nintendo will have their own “Market” implemented into the device as to give them the power to decide what games are allowed on the market, and to get the kickback from the titles as Google and Apple do from their Market or App Store.

    • Anthony Domanico

      Putting together an android-powered device will be more of an investment in android than just releasing a few games would be. Why would this make more sense?

      I guess it gives them control over the hardware user experience.

    • Zer0-9

      My mother worked for Nintendo of America for 15years before retiring. I can say that this concept is far closer to reality than Nintendo putting games out on to the regular Andriod and iOS market.

      Even if they don’t make a specific device, I can see them making Android handsets and tablets talk to the WiiU or similar home console.

      The other thing Nintendo may get into is gaming as a service like Onlive, perhaps leveraging Gaikai.

    • Kevin

      Okay…how does this make any sense whatsoever?

      Nintendo make an android-powered device, but disable the market and only allow their own games on it. Right…

      So what’s the point of that exactly? They’ve basically produced a handheld device, that can’t install any games except Nintendo games. Ummm..exactly like a (3)DS, except powered by Android, which makes no difference because you can’t play android games on it (except Nintendo ones).

      I think this idea needs to go back to the drawing board.

      My own take on this is, Nintendo would be crazy to produce Android games. Without the proper standardised input system the games would suck. And you can already play their games using an emulator. Better to license the emulator and make people pay some money to legally own the roms.

      There will always be a market for dedicated consoles, Nintendo don’t need to worry about that.

      • etschuetz

        This would be “just” Nintendo titles though. Nintendo would still have to set up a structure, through their own market to allow other titles be involved. Games that we see in the market already would certainly become available. However, without Licensing, Nintendo would get kick backs like Google and iOS through their own market for each title sold.

        The main issue with a Nintendo built Android device is the risk of rooting. Once the device is rooted, all hell breaks loose. This would end up becoming the most locked down Android device we could ever imagine.

    • Tiago

      This is an extremely good concept. Independent Nintendo market for iOS/Android, with dedicated launcher.
      RPG games such as pokemon making use of gps coordinates for location based gaming. Imagine walking donw by the street and you smartphone beeping, indicating a wild pokemon, or another trainer in the area.

      Cross platform would mean that the only inconvinient is that young adults all over the world would be teased because they play pokemon…

      I say pokemon, but lots of games nintendo games could bennefit imensely using smartphone technology for gaming.

      Nintendo could make a uge hit if they think properly about this ideia.

      • Shane

        It’s funny you say this. I am in development of a game for Android that has similar concepts to what you described above. For my sake, I hope Nintendo doesn’t cross over to Android. Pokemon would overshadow my game simply because of its brand! :)

  • DroidSamurai

    Google should approach Nintendo (not the other way around ’cause it would be next to impossible for Nintendo to inittalize that move) and offer them a way to make money from the mobile market. The nature of Android makes it easy for Nintendo to have greater control of its brand — it can follow a model similar to SONY, by releasing their own Android phone, but at the same time releases their games to other “supported” Android phones.

  • Ryan

    Why split the company more? You mention saving top tier games for the 3DS and releasing other ones on Android/iOS but why? In my opinion that would almost be a slap in the face for 3DS owners (assuming the game would be phone only).

    On the other hand having things available for both options can be just as bad. One would truly be the original game design and the other would always be “just a port.” That is already one of the drawbacks to Android is that a lot of the apps are bad ports from iOS (granted this is happening less and less but it still exists).

    If my friend is playing a game on his 3DS and I like it and decide to buy it for my Android phone/tablet I don’t want to be disappointed when certain functionality is different (no d-pad/buttons). On the same tangent companies often use this as an opportunity to get someone to buy the game on more than one device; offering special levels/features on one and different characters on another, etc. This can be aggravating for those that just want to play a game without being “required” to pay more to unlock an item required to pass a certain level (as an example).

  • Jes

    Great article! Very interesting comments, too.

    Oh, the possibilities!

  • Joel Watson

    First of all, I am a Nintendo shareholder who has seen both the ups & downs based on what works and what doesnt…

    I am almost 100% certain that Nintendo’s reluctance to enter the mobile gaming market is due to piracy concerns.

    From a software developer’s perspective, anything in an electronic format can be disassembled and potentially unlocked.

    Based on their current struggles to hold back unlicensed emulation systems, I truly believe Nintendo is terrified to enter such an open market.

    If you understand Nintendo’s history, most of their profit stems from cartridge video game sales…this is tangible, controllable income, unlike a digital download which is just not foolproof.

    If Nintendo were to enter the mobile market, it will come at a heavy cost in R&D to design an Android/iOS based phone with tons of heavy control over their WiiWare/DSiWare channels…

    I am sure as I write this that the previous ideas are already being implemented, so the question becomes a matter of timing and necessity.

    My two cents….

    • Anthony Domanico

      thank you for the insight.

    • Dirty_Azkals

      ARRRGGG!!!!!! Avast matey.

      For every noble Nintendo fanboy who would pay for a Nintendo app, there are 100 more that would rather get it free.

  • ncb1010

    Do investors really think that Nintendo has the potential to be the most valuable company in Japan again by being a game software developer? Nintendo relies on their games selling systems and then their systems selling games that they collect royalties off of. If all they are doing is collecting money off of their own software, of which they have to fork over 1/3 of their revenues to the platform gatekeeper, they will effectively be cutting their revenue streams to 1 out of 3. Given that there are about 3/4s as many DSs as there are iOS devices, the shear numbers approach won’t even compensate for the cut in revenues due to royalties.

  • SliestDragon

    Man, if Nintendo went into the android business, that would be amazing. I kind of doubt this would happen any time soon, but if it were to happen, it would be a real tide turner…

  • Cwalden21

    Paying 5 bucks for Zelda or Mario! without having to deal with rooting or emulators would be nice! hope they go through with it. Definitely a good buy

  • Nathan

    This would be amazing if they really made games for Android. I would buy games that are $5+ if they ever did or even more depending on the game.

    • Nathan

      Also they should her off there hogh horse and experament with at least one game and see how well it does.

      • Nathan

        Damn sorry meant to say they should get of there high horse.

  • Alex

    Please nintendo, pokemon for android id pay 40, plus we have better hardware than the 3ds lol

  • Ryan Rampersad

    Nintendo needs to do two things. First, put some kind of Pokemon on some kind Android or iOS, preferably the one that has a non-phone/no-contract model handset. Second, make great hardware and great games – there’s only much you can milk out of a set of twenty characters created twenty years ago.

    * I don’t play that many games.

  • iSlackerz

    Thank you for publishing an article about what I’ve been thinking for over a year. I would LOVE (yes, I’m screaming that…) it if Nintendo (and Sega) would publish their games on Android. iOS and WP7 too… I guess.

    Nintendo has such a deep catalog of games and characters that they wouldn’t need to make exclusive games for any mobile OS. Not that I would mind if they did, but if they started with the OG Nintendo console and moved thru the Wii and retrofitted games for phones and tablets they would have the only games in any mobile store worth $10+. They could keep all of the current generation games exclusive to their current generation of consoles and they would still make a killing.

    Imagine some mobile Super Mario 64, Metroid and multiplayer Super Smash Bros. on the go. I get anxious just thinking about the fantastic-ness of it. Hopefully, someday soon they’ll come around. Until then… I’ll just hope. Maybe I’ll sacrifice a goat or virgin or something like that…

  • Mark

    ….OR you can just download one of the many Nintendo emulators on or off the market.

  • nicxus

    Dear Nintendo,

    Shut up and take my money.

  • Tornato7

    Nintendo was the very first company I invested in when I was a wee little boy. I still have like 100 shares of stock. It went to like 20 times what I bought it for and I was super happy, now its only about twice that I think. I wish they would enter this market. I would gladly pay for a pokemon game or something, instead I have to use emulators.

  • luiek20

    OMG Pokemon or Mario on android!? my life would be over lol but seriously that would be a definite plus! Orz

  • Anthony Domanico

    And yes, i know there are still off-market ways to get emulators, but controls flat out suck on emulators for the most part. I really want to see new content for android from nintendo.

  • Galen20K

    as exciting as that would be, I just really think Nintendo’s games are just too valuable to throw on other platforms. I really do think they need to keep them for themselves.

  • kian popat

    I think Nintendo have a great chance of getting back in the race of top gaming company!

    They could make apps that work with the games like a pokedex or summit

    This post was so good I want to use it on my great blogs:

  • NeoJesus


  • Shaun Young

    I have a bunch of Nintendo emulators and ROMs on my Galaxy S. I’m more or less waiting for the PlayStation Suite.

  • Edward

    Nintendo must be dense in the skull…they aren’t going to make it unless they adapt to the changing environment. They act as if being stubborn and not releasing the game is staying “loyal” to their fans, which is total bull shit. Don’t they realize their fans are growing up? I played nintendo games when I was young but I no longer carry a gameboy around with me, as most young adults aren’t willing to do. Why not release games for android and iPhone? They’d make a KILLING. Kids would still buy the gameboys but they’d have a huge market of new users that would never buy a proprietary handheld..nintendo is plain stupid not to do this. Oh well, I’ll just emulate their games on my android device and they won’t see a cent from it, bravo nintendo. Miss the nintendo 64 days…sorry for the diatribe.

  • Abhinav

    I still use Nester and a few other emulators to run old Nintendo games on my comp, and would LOVE to see Mario and others on Android. Those games had a more fanatic fan-following than Angry Birds, and will sell like crazy !

  • Lux143

    NO!!! NO MORE RETRO GAMES! they’re so outdated and overplayed when they originally came out i dont want to see them ever again…They need to MAKE NEW ONES….
    clones, whatever….just STOP with the retro crap….
    its like playing the same song 1000 times over and over…its dumb now, and has been for awhile.
    If you willingly pay $5 for pacman…your an idiot.