Is Nintendo Testing The Smartphone App Waters?

Mar 10, 2013 07:52 AM EDT | By Luke Caulfield (l.caulfield@gamenguide.com)

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Spring is just around the corner, which means that according to Nintendo's timetable, the company's own social network, the Miiverse, will soon be browsable via your very own smartphone through a dedicated app.

In doing so, Nintendo hopes expand their own social network to those to who may not have a 3DS to keep up with the network while on the go. But why limit its availability by just targeting tried and true Nintendo fans? Why not break down the walls even more and finally expand into mobile gaming?

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When asked about the possibility of getting into the smartphone game back in the fall, Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata was quick to shoot down the possibility.

"This is absolutely not under consideration...If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. Having a hardware development team in-house is a major strength. It's the duty of management to make use of those strengths. It's probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we'd make profits. However, I believe my responsibility is not to short term profits, but to Nintendo's mid and long term competitive strength."

Creator of some of Nintendo's most celebrated and critcially acclaimed titles, Shigeru Miyamoto echoed the president's thoughts with Wired shortly after Nintendo's latest handheld, the 3DS, debuted. He talked about Nintendo's changing role in the face of new competition that are capable of far more than Nintendo may have bet, but wasn't convinced they were in the same game.

"...people are sometimes talking about the element of smartphones and how Nintendo's market share might be eroded by the element of smartphones. But I do not think that we are directly competing against each other."

It's been a few months since Miyamoto spoke those words, and I'd wager that the man's opinion may have changed.

I remember traveling as a 'lil lad, and whenever I did, I always made sure to have my Game Boy within reach. Sure, I went the Game Gear route for a bit, lured by it's full array of colors, but after the thing ate weekly allowance after allowance of batteries, I went back to the clunky handheld with it's greytoned gameplay.

For the longest time, Nintendo was king of mobile gaming, sitting high atop a throne Princess Toadstool would be proud to call her own. You couldn't turn a corner without seeing some kid with one of these things. Today, the kids who sported any of Nintendo's gaming on the go devices as kids turned to smartphones, tablets, and the like, and the kids today have followed suit.

Nintendo's sales have suffered ever since the Wii U's disappointing launch, and the company is still selling the 3DS at a loss. Considering this, and depending on how this Miiverse app works out this season, we could be seeing an entirely different Nintendo in a few short months. Easy to doubt, sure, but consider a parallel from the pages of history.

If you had taken any gamer aside during the mid 90's, and told them that Sega would be relagated to a simple third party publisher, there's not a chance in hell they would've believed you about that either.

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