Mario and Luigi on Your Smartphone? Nintendo, DeNA Announce Business Alliance

On March 17, gaming giant Nintendo announced a business and capital tie-up with mobile gaming and e-commerce service operator DeNA. The deal should have a major impact on the gaming scene, at last bringing Nintendo’s wildly popular gaming franchises to mobile platforms like iOS and Android.

According to the press release from Nintendo, the alliance aims at “the joint development and operation of gaming applications for smart devices and joint development of a new multi-device membership service for the global market.” While it still enjoys considerable success with its console and handheld DS gaming devices, Nintendo has fallen behind the industry’s steady moves to the mobile sphere. Analysts and gamers have long wondered when Mario, Link, and other high-profile Nintendo characters would come to their smartphones and tablets. Now it appears that the wait will be over later this year.

DeNA, meanwhile, notes in its announcement that “only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system.” Nintendo franchises have great staying power, so the chance to see their favorite characters in all-new settings should keep gamers interested.

Mobile Power + Mario’s Popularity

DeNA operates the Mobage platform for mobile OS gaming titles. With more than 30 million users in Japan, and a growing global reach, Mobage should be a solid foundation to launch new titles featuring Nintendo’s long-awaited properties.

The companies announced that their alliance would go beyond publishing individual titles to develop a “new core system compatible with a variety of devices including PCs, smartphones and tablets as well as Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems.” By tying its hardware business into the constellation of online and mobile gaming operations, Nintendo is moving to stay relevant in an era when gamers increasingly want access to their titles wherever they are. The membership service using this new system is slated for release as early as fall of 2015.

The alliance is executed through a ¥22 billion share swap, with Nintendo taking a 10% stake in DeNA in exchange for 1.24% of its own treasury shares. The deal will be finalized on April 2, the payment date for the shares.

(Originally written in English on March 17, 2015. Banner photo courtesy Jon Fingas.)

  • [2015.03.17]
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