Nintendo has blindsided the press once again with the surprising news this morning that they are finally taking the smartphone dip so long predicted. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone as there have been hints littered throughout various press releases and investor meetings since it became clear that the Wii U was not going to repeat the successes of the Wii.
The surprising thing, however, is that they aren’t going it alone. They’ve purchased a 10% stake in DeNA, owners of wildly successful and equally profitable mobile developer Mobage. Nintendo isn’t just dipping into smartphones, they’re specifically investing in smartphones. That 10% stake makes them the highest shareholder in DeNA second only to the founder, who owns 13.5%.
As part of the long-term relationship and commitment by each company, Nintendo and DeNA have also agreed to form a capital alliance. Under the capital alliance, Nintendo will acquire 15,081,000 of DeNA’s treasury shares, which corresponds to 10.00 percent of its total outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. DeNA will simultaneously acquire 1,759,400 of Nintendo’s treasury shares, which corresponds to 1.24 percent of its outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. The payment is due April 2, 2015.
The press release from DeNA goes into detail about the specific partnership that has been negotiated and I suggest you read it carefully before losing your shit over this. Nintendo isn’t shilling out Mario for a flappy bird clone to the highest bidder. They’re working together with an established and successful mobile development platform to build games specifically for smartphones (and probably 3DS).
Nintendo is taking the lead in development. Not DeNA, though they have capable developers as well. Though Iwata (Nintendo Boss Guy) has spoken about and all but ruled out ports of existing games in the past, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea personally. Square-Enix has, for a long time, made quite the boatloads of cash by porting their older games to smartphones and charging an unreasonably high fee for them. Nintendo’s backlog of games is of the highest quality and they’d be remiss to not at least consider this possibility.
With this news also comes the news that DeNA and Nintendo are partnering up for a new “online membership service” that will, if God is a good and just God, replace the existing Nintendo membership services.
Of course, the news has hit a few people particularly hard. Those who thing that smartphones are the bane of gamings existence will paint their placards with “DOOM IS COMING” and virtually march and virtually yell about this partnership and what it means for traditional gaming. Those people are dumb. Don’t be those people.
Lets embrace the future together and remember that despite Nintendo having no idea how to make hardware these days, they have some crazy ass good developers who’re probably going to reinvigorate a stagnant market instead of sinking into mediocrity.