Don’t expect to see Mario jumping down pipes on an iPhone or Android phone anytime soon–or possibly ever. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has made it clear that the gaming company will create software for its products and its products alone. Such extreme loyalty isn’t entirely based on self-promotion either: Nintendo thinks that mobile gaming (as in games for smartphones and tablets, not to be confused with portable gaming in the form of the Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s PSP) is bad for the market in general. Earlier this year, Nintendo executive Reginald Fils-Aime put in plainly, saying “I actually think that one of the biggest risks today in our gaming industry are these inexpensive games that are disposable from a consumer standpoint.”
Unfortunately for Nintendo, those consumers don’t agree. Mobile games have taken over and are the biggest threat to industry veterans. But what these veterans are doing is jumping on board, as quickly as possible. Microsoft has its own mobile operating system that integrates with Xbox Live, and Sony has the Android-based PlayStation Xperia Play on its roster. Nintendo, however, remains a holdout.
And investors are less than pleased with this stance, which honestly makes Nintendo look a little like the dinosaur of the gaming world. According to Bloomberg, they want Iwata to abandon Nintendo’s sole-platform agenda and look into the very profitable world of iPad, iPhone, and Facebook game development.
Nintendo’s stock has plummeted recently, thanks in part to its ignorance of mobile gaming’s growth as well as its competitors’ focus on this platform. The compromises Nintendo tried to make were the 3DS and the forthcoming WiiU. The 3DS has performed below expectations, and the WiiU has received a hefty amount of criticism already. Going it your own way and struggling only works for so long, and it seems Nintendo’s only real option for guaranteed success is to cooperate with outside platforms.
Last month, rumors began circulating that Nintendo was interested in development for mobile operating systems. The short-lived gossip caused Nintendo shares to spike, but when the company said it had no such plans, they fell again. Are Nintendo execs not seeing a pattern? As one investment firm bluntly put it, “They just don’t get it. Sell the stock, because a management once feted for creative out-of-box thinking have just shown how behind the times they are.”
Hopefully investor pressure will be enough to turn around what’s quickly beginning to look like a sinking ship. We feel pretty confident saying that Mario Bros. mobile games could easily top app stores. The move would open up Nintendo’s games to what’s partially a new audience: There are plenty of consumers who have taken to smartphones that never touched a gaming console but can’t get enough of Angry Birds. Come on, Nintendo. Give the people what they want. It’s time.