Nintendo president: I won’t sacrifice long-term survival for smartphone gain

Chris Davies - Jun 12, 2013, 5:36 am CDT
Nintendo president: I won’t sacrifice long-term survival for smartphone gain

Nintendo releasing games for smartphones and tablets would be the kiss of death for the Japanese company in the long-term, president Satoru Iwata insists, cashing in the firm’s future in the name of short-term game. Speaking at E3 this week, Iwata reiterated that Nintendo had no plans to release games for iOS, Android, or other platforms beyond its own hardware, the WSJ reports, conceding that “if you want to make short-term profits from the stock price, then I am a very bad president.”

However, on the flip side to that argument, “I don’t think I’m so bad for maximizing the long-term value of Nintendo” Iwata suggested.

“If I was only concerned about managing Nintendo for this year and next year—and not about what the company would be like in 10 or 20 years—then I’d probably say that my point of view is nonsense” Iwata pointed out. “But if we think 20 years down the line, we may look back at the decision not to supply Nintendo games to smartphones and think that is the reason why the company is still here.”

Calls for Nintendo to end its insular approach to franchise licensing aren’t new. Back in 2012, when the company posted its first annual loss, some investors demanded Nintendo rethink its strategy, conceding to the growing proportion of gaming that takes place on a mobile device versus dedicated hardware.

However, Iwata has been a long-standing critic of smartphone and casual games, warning developers and the industry that they are selling themselves short on the work that goes into creating popular titles. “Is maintaining high value games a top priority, or not?” he questioned at GDC 2011. “When I look at retailers and I see the $1 and free software, I have to determine that the owner doesn’t care about the high value of software at all.”

Today, Iwata still insists that Nintendo’s value proposition is by creating titles that work with its own hardware in ways that third-party platforms can’t quite match, though he concedes that achieving that successfully is getting tougher and tougher.

“People will buy hardware just to buy a single game if the game is really compelling” he insists. “The hurdle has gotten higher, but if we can clear it, then we think the games can still sell.”

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