Years ago, mobile gaming meant that you were lucky enough to have “Bejeweled” pre-installed on your flip phone. However, with the dawn of the age of smartphones, mobile gaming has become an enormous industry. It is growing at rapid speeds, and many game developers are embracing the new market for their work. Not all companies are as enthusiastic about this outlet, though. Such is the case for Nintendo, as was made clear at their recent Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. During the question and answer portion of this event, which took place June 27, Nintendo executives made it clear that their focus in the coming year will not cater to the mobile gaming crowd. In addition, they considered the effect of mobile gaming on the console game industry, reflecting on their fears that these new, widely accessible options may jeopardize their own profits.
“Over these past few years, the number of choices that consumers have for how to spend their leisure time has significantly increased,” Satoshi Yamato, the General Manager of the Marketing Division at Nintendo, pointed out. “Accordingly, it is now more difficult than before for Nintendo’s products to rank high in consumers’ wish lists.”
According to a 2013 study by Newzoo, approximately 78% of all gamers worldwide play mobile games. This figure is expected to increase exponentially, as it was predicted that the mobile gaming market will have doubled by 2016. These rapid changes are worrisome for those who focus on more traditional game formats. “The information flow has changed dramatically over the past few years, and I worry that Nintendo might not be able to keep up with these changes sufficiently,” said Yamato.
Nintendo’s Senior Managing Director and General Manager of EAD, Shigeru Miyamoto, assuaged some of the worry by emphasizing that he “[does] not believe that will completely control the future of video games.” However, he has other fears in terms of mobile games, primarily the security of children. Nintendo has always been a family-friendly company, and it is difficult for mobile networks to be secure for children, as Miyamoto explained.
“It is important to gain profit in effective ways,” he said, “but Nintendo always has to take seriously, for example, network security for children. Taking into consideration that more and more children have a good command of these kinds of media, which help these media to spread, the most important task for Nintendo is how to provide new styles of entertainment by using these technologies, and how to make these new kinds of entertainment yield significant sales and profits.”
Instead of creating games to distribute on a mobile format, Nintendo alluded to an upcoming application that falls more in the marketing category.
“”Through such an application,” said director of Software Planning Shinya Takahashi, “we would like to connect with many consumers around the world, including those who do not own Nintendo’s video game systems, and communicate the value of our entertainment offerings.”
In the past, Nintendo has emphasized their devotion to console-based gaming, denying any plans for smartphone releases. While mobile games would show clear adaptation to the current market, that is not necessarily part of Nintendo’s strategy.
“When you adapt too much, you lose what’s unique about you,” Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said on the subject a few months ago. The company appears to be more focused on their identity as a brand than following the tides of what is popular in the industry.