Nintendo gaming phone rumor seems far-fetched – but then so did Switch

Eric Abent - Mar 19, 2019, 10:48 am CDT
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Nintendo gaming phone rumor seems far-fetched – but then so did Switch

By now, Nintendo’s mobile ambitions are pretty clear. For the past few years, Nintendo has been bringing a number of its franchises to mobile devices, and it’s been experimenting with monetization strategies along the way. Those mobile releases don’t seem to be slowing down either, with new mobile games based on Mario Kart and Dr. Mario currently in the works.

However, a new report claims that Nintendo’s plans for the mobile space may include more than just mobile games. Nintendo is said to be considering a smartphone of its own, which would be a pretty big step for a company that was resistant to idea of making mobile games just five or six years ago.

The rumor comes from DigiTimes, and is actually a footnote in a larger report about Razer’s next gaming phone. In highlighting the competitors Razer will have in the gaming phone niche, DigiTimes notes, “There have been speculations about Nintendo planning to launch a gaming handset that can integrate with its Switch consoles, the Japan-based vendor has yet to respond to such speculations.”

This is shaky for a couple of reasons. The first is that Nintendo hasn’t given any indication that it wants to make a gaming phone. Furthermore, DigiTimes doesn’t cite the source of this speculation, so we don’t know if this information is coming from someone who actually has knowledge on the matter. In other words, temper what you just read with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Is it that crazy to think Nintendo may create a gaming phone though? On the one hand, Nintendo might be hesitant to put its brand on a smartphone out of fear that it could cannibalize Switch sales. On the other, offering a smartphone with specific and meaningful integration with the Switch might make it a tempting buy for some people.

Nintendo is no stranger to offering integration between its consoles and handhelds. The Game Boy Advance could connect to the GameCube by way of a special cable, and the Super Game Boy allowed SNES owners to play their Game Boy games on a TV. Even the 3DS had some degree of integration with the Wii U, as players could link the two systems and use the 3DS as a controller in Super Smash Bros.

We haven’t seen any kind of 3DS integration for the Switch, and once the 3DS is discontinued in the next year or two, Nintendo might view a gaming phone as a suitable successor in a world where the Switch can act as both a handheld and a home console.

DigiTimes has certainly given us something interesting to think about, but for now, all signs point to Nintendo being focused on continuing to grow the Switch’s user base and nothing else. We won’t be holding out hope for a Nintendo-branded phone anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the company can’t surprise us. After all, early rumors about the Switch definitely felt sensational and unrealistic. Just as well, it was only a few years ago that the idea of Nintendo-made smartphone games seemed ridiculous, and look where we are today.


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