How Nintendo Plans On Tackling Its Toughest Year

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

Last night was the night that Nintendo told investors — and the world — how they're going to meet the challenges they're facing. People have been talking about Nintendo a lot lately, mostly because of worse-than-expected Wii U sales and a lackluster mobile phone presence.

In an investor meeting last night, company president Satoru Iwata outlined the vision for Nintendo's hardware and services moving forward. Some of his statements confirms elements of rumours from the past few weeks, while another part of his remarks offer up some surprises.

Putting Nintendo Stuff on Smartphones

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

Getting 'Mario on the App Store' has been pitched ad nauseam as a panacea for what ails modern-day Nintendo. That's not going to happen, Iwata said. But what will happen is that they'll be making apps for mobile devices, with the aim of pulling users of those devices into Nintendo's ecosytem. Iwata's words, with emphasis added:

Therefore, we would like to, instead of directly expanding our business on smart devices, focus on achieving greater ties with our consumers on smart devices and expanding our platform business.

We will use a small, select team of developers to achieve it. Also, we recognise that attracting consumers' attention among the myriads of mobile applications is not easy, and as I said before, we feel that simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices, so we are not going to take any approach of this nature. Having said that, however, in the current environment surrounding smart devices, we feel that we will not be able to gain the support of many consumers unless we are able to provide something truly valuable that is unique to Nintendo. Accordingly, I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters. However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement. It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results.

Getting More of Their Awesome Back-Catalogue on Current Hardware

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

Like the 3DS, the DS was yet another device that went from a head-scratching enigma to heavyweight champion. Lots of great games on there, too, but many of them haven't been available on the newer hardware that followed. That's going to change, with a stream of DS games promised for the Wii U Virtual Console. Here's Iwata, with our bolding:

We are now sure that we can solve the technical problem of displaying Virtual Console software from Nintendo DS on the GamePad.

The dual-screen Nintendo DS, one of which is a touch screen, has a very strong software lineup, and so we plan to add the Virtual Console titles from Nintendo DS software to the future Virtual Console lineup for Wii U.

Making the Wii U Work Better

Right now, you turn the Wii U on and you wait. Then you navigate through a bunch of menus that, really, you shouldn't have to. A new system update due out this summer will make it so you can get to playing games a lot faster. Straight from Nintendo's top guy, with our emphasis:

Unfortunately, however, after starting up Wii U, there is a wait of over 20 seconds before we can select a video game title, and hence it is not an ideal situation for users now.

To solve this problem, a quick start menu for the GamePad will become a reality after a future system update planned for early summer.

This new function is currently under development, and although we cannot show a demo with a real machine, we have made a video to show you what the function can do, so please take a look.

Focus on What Makes the Wii U Different: The GamePad

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

The Wii U has one thing that no other dedicated gaming system has: a controller that combines stick-and-button inputs with a touchscreen. What the system needs, Iwata said, are more games that showcase the strengths of the hybrid interface. Emphasis ours.

In order to do this, it is obvious that Our top priority task this year is to offer software titles that are made possible because of the GamePad. We have managed to offer several of such software titles for occasions when many people gather in one place to play, but we have not been able to offer a decisive software title that enriches the user's gameplay experience when playing alone with the GamePad. This will be one of the top priorities of Mr. Miyamoto's software development department this year.

They're Going to Check Your Heartbeat

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

Portable gaming, perfecting 3D game design, motion control… Nintendo's key to success in the past has been finding areas of game-based interaction that its competitors haven't. Now, they think that health and wellness might be one of these shark-free 'blue oceans.'

The theme of "health." Of course, defining a new entertainment business that seeks to improve QOL creates various possibilities for the future such as "learning" and "lifestyle," but it is our intention to take "health" as our first step.

Please note, however, that rather than simply setting health as our theme, Nintendo will also try to expand it in a new blue ocean.

When we use "health" as the keyword, some may inevitably think about "Wii Fit." However, we are considering themes that we have not incorporated to games for our existing platforms. Including the hardware that will enable such an idea, we will aim to establish a blue ocean.

As those who are already suffering from illness can seek medical care, our new business domain would be providing preventive measures which would require us to enable people to monitor their health and offer them appropriate propositions.

Very Special Guest Stars

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

When Nintendo characters show up in games that aren't made by the House of Mario, it's a big deal. Expect that to some evolution on that front, Iwata said. Emphasis ours.

Also, we are planning to utilise Nintendo's abundance of character IP more actively. I think the reason that Nintendo is now considered to have this "abundance of character IP" is perhaps because of our passive approach toward the character IP licensing business, which tends to have a high risk of damaging the value of the character. In other words, we think that spending time to develop our approach of having our characters appear mainly in our carefully selected games has created our current fortunate circumstances. However, we are going to change our policy going forward.

To be more precise, we will actively expand our character licensing business, including proactively finding appropriate partners. In fact, we have been actively selling character merchandise for about a year in the U.S.

Also, we will be flexible about forming licensing relationships in areas we did not licence in the past, such as digital fields, provided we are not in direct competition and we can form win-win relationships.

By moving forward with such activities globally, we aim to increase consumer exposure to Nintendo characters by making them appear in places other than on video game platforms.

Flexible Pricing Might Be a Way to Expand Nintendo's Reach

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

Getting somebody to jump on board the Nintendo bandwagon might be easier if the cost of entry was a little lower. Iwata's remarks on that:

Needless to say, there are core users in new markets who buy our hardware and software at the same price as in the existing markets and we really appreciate these consumers. For a large majority of consumers in the new markets, however, the current prices of hardware and software in the existing markets are generally difficult to accept.

To leverage Nintendo's strength as an integrated hardware-software business, we will not rule out the idea of offering our own hardware for new markets, but for dramatic expansion of the consumer base there, we require a product family of hardware and software with an entirely different price structure from that of the developed markets.

Once we can establish such a connection with consumers in these nations, we will be able to use smart devices to share our information as well as important content distribution infrastructure. We plan to take significant steps toward such a new market approach in the year 2015.

Buy More, Pay Less

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

If your love of Nintendo runs deep, you might be getting a reward better than the coolest Club Nintendo swag: less pain on your wallet.

For example, until now it has been taken for granted that software is offered to users at the same price regardless of how many titles they purchase in a year, be it one, five or even 10 titles. Based on our account system, if we can offer flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions, we can create a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more.

If we can achieve such a sales mechanism, we can expect to increase the number of players per title, and the players will play our games with more friends. This can help maintain the high usage ratio of a platform. When one platform maintains a high active use ratio, the software titles which run on it have a higher potential to be noticed by many, which leads to more people playing with more titles. When we see our overall consumers, they generally play two or three titles per year. We aim to establish a new sales mechanism that will be beneficial to both consumers and software creators by encouraging our consumers to play more titles and increasing a platform's active use ratio without largely increasing our consumers' expenditures.

One Username, All of Nintendo

How Nintendo Plans on Tackling Its Toughest Year

A feature that users have been requesting for a while now — a unified Nintendo Network ID — could be on its way to becoming a reality.

On Wii U, we launched Nintendo Network IDs, which are abbreviated as NNIDs. This is the first step of our efforts to transform customer relationship management from device-based to account-based, namely, consumer-based, through which we aim to establish long-term relationships with individual consumers, unaffected by the lifespans of our systems. Our future platform will connect with our consumers based on accounts, not devices.

Of course, when we do launch new hardware in the future, rather than re-creating an installed base from scratch as we did in the past, we wish to build on our existing connections with our consumers through NNIDs and continue to maintain them. Another very important point that we need to consider is how we will incorporate smart devices into Nintendo platforms, which were composed solely of Nintendo hardware in the past.

Picture: AYAY


    I like the idea of getting DS games on the Wii U but what I really, really want (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) is for SNES and GBA games to be released on 3DS eshop.

      Couldn't agree more. The decision to not release LttP on the 3DS prior to the sequel strikes me as an odd one.

    These might not have been exactly what I wanted next from nintendo, but I'm really glad they finally plan on doing something interesting.

    Really, though. Out of all the how to fix Nintendo stuff, of all things I really just think they need to listen to customers and developers more. Sony did it. It worked wonders for them.

    Then again, they don't have that much to work with due to fanboys' inability to criticise nintendo for anything.

    But this is good. I'm liking this.

    2 words can solve all their problems.... "pokemon online" just do it Nintendo

    How about new games?

    Heres a list: Metroid, New Zelda, Majoras Mask HD remaster, Earthbound 2 (Mother 4), F-ZERO U, Star Fox U, Pokemon MMO, a few new IPs, more JRPGs, gamecube virtual console titles

    That being said X, Smash, Kart and Shin Megami X Fire Emblem are all going to be quite simply amazing.

      Exactly right, I hate how these days it’s all about the media centre, fancy controls, blu ray support, net flicks, voice commands, etc.

      I buy a console to play games.

        THIS! not that we even get netflix in australia to begin with! :(

      I couldn't agree with this more.

      It's all well and fine that they are looking to make their previous titles more accessible by Virtual Console, but I have most likely gone through those titles and if not, I could just as easily get them for the old hardware I still have. There's nothing there at the moment for the WiiU that is making me go "Oh, damn this is awesome, OK time to get a WiiU". If they release some interesting titles for the console, then I will look to get one. Until then my 3DS will suffice.

    Good to see they're finally acknowledging the problems they're facing and admitting that the Wii U is meeting anyone's expectations (except maybe Sony & Microsofts). Obviously a price change will make a few more gamers buy a system but it doesn't address the issue that most mainstream people don't know what the Wii U is except that it's the thing next to the Wii games in EB Games but for some reason it has a slightly different colour box.

    I'll be interested to see what third party developers they've been trying to get on board though. I think they're realising, also at last, that they can't just rely on Mario vs Sonic games. This isn't the 90s anymore and gamers who grew up with those two have matured .

    I can see myself buying a Wii U later this year though. I already have a PS4 and will upgrade my PC soon, but I do want to play the Nintendo exclusives. That said, it's not a must buy for me. What will go a good way to making it a must buy is having the back catalogue of games on the Wii U. They did it with the Wii, why not the Wii U? Also, I would expect all the games up to the N64, maybe the Gamecube, to be able to be played remotely on the gamepad. That would be a clincher for me to be able to play those games in bed or when someone's taken the tv over. Plus obviously a stronger game lineup in the future

    I'd like Virtual Console titles to be playable on multiple devices.

    If I buy a NES game on the WiiU I should be able to play it on the 3DS without rebuying it.

      Agreed. I hope this is a consideration with the planned unified account system.

    I really wish they wouldn't charge quite so much for their awesome back catalogue though it's kind of addressed in the article, also agreed with Stevorooni.

    But anyway, I'm still hanging for the new Mario Kart and I'd love to see more NES remix style games.

    Iwata has to go. Seriously. I'm a Nintendo fanboy and shareholder and have been calling for this for a year or two.

    Health and Well being? Seriously. Wtf?

    And I've even seen Nintendo fanboys saying its a great idea. Give me a game not a freakin gimmick.

      I agree, Iwata has to go. Nintendo needs someone more aggressive.

      I really cannot get behind this policy of demanding heads to roll the first moment things go south. Satoru Iwata became president in the Gamecube/ GBA era and pulled Nintendo from its then current, obscure niche to be the clearly most successful gaming hardware company of the past generation with the Wii and the DS, both of them initially scoffed by people like you, who wanted "X, not gimmicks". And now, because the Wii U hasn't managed to surpass that standard yet, he has to go? Gimme a break.

      Take a bat and note how many homeruns you can hit in a row. Have someone spit on your face every time you don't connect one after the previous, regardless of how good you had done so far. Then tell me: isn't it better to keep someone who has a good track record, even when he commits mistakes (and allow him to mend them) than having his head off and then hope with crossed fingers that the next one will be not only better, but also, completely incapable of mistakes?

    Put Pokemon Red and Blue on the 3ds/2ds store.. Honestly you aren't making money from those games anymore why not just make money from it..

    "How Nintendo Plans On Tackling Its Toughest Year - Putting Nintendo Stuff on Smartphones" NINTENDO YOU'RE DOING IT AGAIN. Stop wanking off to your gimmick fetish and listen to your FANS for once. You remember them right?

      On the plus side, that was just one bullet point among many, which all seemed pretty good. Credit where credit's due.

    Just put Fire Red & Leaf Green on smart phone already. I know I can get it with a room but I'd love to do it legit and support it.

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