Investors to Nintendo: It’s Time for iPhone Games

| News

Despite the lukewarm reception consumers gave 3DS portable gaming system, and investor pressure to develop titles for the iPhone, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata refuses to bring the company’s games to the iOS platform.

Poor 3DS sales, along with steep product price cuts and dropping stock value has pushed investors to pressure Nintendo into releasing games for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, according to Bloomberg. By coding for iOS, investors assume, Nintendo will be able to get its games in front of more buyers and boost up the company’s value.

Super Mario on iPhone? Yeah, right.Super Mario on iPhone? Don’t hold your breath.

Early in July, former Nintendo division Pokemon Co. announced it planned to release iOS and Android versions of its popular games. When Nintendo announced it wasn’t following suit, its stock dropped quickly.

Nintendo’s refusal to embrace iOS is a clear signal the company doesn’t understand the current portable gaming market, according to  MF Global FXA Securities Ltd. “Sell the stock,” the firm said in a research note. “Because a management once feted for creative out-of-box thinking have just shown how behind the times they are.”

Despite pressure from investors, it doesn’t look like any of Nintendo’s games will be coming to the iPhone soon. Mr. Iwata said that as long as he’s running the company, its games will be coded only for Nintendo devices — a stance that could push investors into pressuring for a new company president, too.

Popular TMO Stories



“Nintendo?s refusal to embrace iOS is a clear signal the company doesn?t understand the current portable gaming market, according to MF Global FXA Securities Ltd. ?Sell the stock,? the firm said in a research note.”

Satoru Iwata and Steven Jobs: obviously, identical twins separated at birth, conspired against by the same enemy pundit ignorami.

To thine own whole widget, be faithful, Satoru!


I think Nintendo realizes few can make money selling games for 99 cents.


I think Nintendo realizes few can make money selling games for 99 cents.

But the bigger game studios sure think they can.  I’d buy some Nintendo games on the iPhone! 

I love the Nintendo franchise, but presently I don’t own any Nintendo consoles so I only play their games when I visit a friend with a Wii.  But I do own an iPhone and would quickly snatch up a few games if made available.

To thine own whole widget, be faithful, Satoru!

But yes, this has been their business model (AFAIK) and if they started releasing their games for competitor’s devices that would ruin sales of their own hardware and they would become a software-only company like Atari.  In the Nintendo DS vs. iPhone market they may be close enough to losing that this is inevitable anyway, but not with the Wii.  A good refresh of the Wii will keep them relevant in the console space, unless and until Apple makes the AppleTV a reasonable competitor.

Speaking of AppleTV, with iOS 5 it will kinda be a competitor when you use an iPad with AirPlay to play the games on the TV and the iPad together. But I don’t think those tech specs outperform even the Wii, do they? And although you get the touch and accelerometer controller of the iPad, it is much less convenient than the Wii-mote or Xbox Kinect, so I don’t think AppleTV is a serious game console competitor yet, though it is getting there.

Ross Edwards

To thine own whole widget, be faithful, Satoru!

Not sure whether you were being tongue-in-cheek or not, but I would agree that Nintendo should stick to its guns.

Interested folks should read “Game Over” by David Sheff.  It’s a history of Nintendo until around 1992, and there are remarkable parallels between Nintendo’s story from 1979-1992 and Apple’s story from 1998 to today.  Nintendo struggled to break into the video game industry, then to resurrect it from the dead, and then to thrive as the top dog when all the opposition became ankle-biting jackals hoping to tear them down through litigation rather than competition.

All along, Nintendo stuck to a set of core concepts: Make the entire gaming experience something that the players can’t get anywhere else.  Make it smooth, simple, and fun.  Make the software the best that’s available and the hardware sales will take care of themselves.  Sound familiar?

The iOS devices are possibly the most CONVENIENT game consoles out there right now, but they aren’t the best.  As a pure “twitch” gaming experience, even the 20-year-old SNES is palpably better.  The iOS devices can deliver a fun experience, yes, and they are very well-suited to certain subgenres, but most of them are “nurturing” or puzzle game types, where the “twitch” factor is minimal and the skill shots are not based on dexterity but instead on logic.  Nintendo is seeing the fallout from this in low sales of the 3DS, which is “twitch” capable, but is really optimized to play the same game types as iOS.  The 3DS is not as limited-input as iOS, but it’s not as tactile as the home consoles either.

I’m not sure the Wii U is the answer, necessarily, but I think Nintendo is right to continue trying to build their own whole widget for delivery of the intense “twitch” gaming experience—games like the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid series have never truly belonged on limited-input portables, and have been ubiquitous to the point of being shared zeitgeisi in their home console iterations.  Perhaps the best console controller ever developed is Nintendo’s Wavebird.  Nintendo should consider the sort of game for which that kind of peripheral is the ideal controller, and follow the line of innovation that stems from that, now that Wii’s blue-ocean concept has been suborned completely by iOS.


I’m mixed on this.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that Nintendo’s greatest strength is it’s IP library; a lot of folks bought the Wii in addition to a PS3 or XBox 360, because the quality Nintendo brand games (Zelda, Mario, Metroid) are Nintendo exclusive. Porting their classics over to the iOS would draw value away from their own platforms.

The big concern right now for the 3DS is the lack actual games. That won’t be helped by using resources to create iOS games.

It’s possible that Nintendo could create unique IP for the iOS, using the unique features of the touchscreen and motion sensor in innovative ways, but that’s not the same thing as Mario for the iPhone, and would dilute the resources for developing on their own platform.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account