Nintendo takes dramatic steps to reinvent itself

By: - 30th Jan 2014
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A new gaming platform, opening the licensing on their iconic IP, and smartphone and tablet development are all on the table in Nintendo’s bid to regain relevancy.

Nintendo, as you’re well aware, has suffered great losses in the recent weeks and months, finding itself isolated from both the casual gamers (who either kept the Wii or transitioned to mobile platforms like smartphones or tablets) and hardcore gamers (who have moved to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) that made up it’s target audience.  With mounting losses and grim projections for the following months, Nintendo announced a while ago that it planned to restructure itself  and chance how it approaches business in the future.  But until recently, Nintendo never really revealed how it intended to do that, outside some vague talk of Smartphone development and a bigger focus on the Wii U as a family device.

That’s changed, however, as today Nintendo made a series of  reveals that detail exactly how it intends to move forward: and some of these changes are quite extraordinary.  The first, and formerly discussed, is making software for tablets and phones: as discussed in a Corporate Management Policy Briefing that was released today, Nintendo states that while they don’t plan on exploring the world of mobile devices with any depth (as they feel mobile development doesn’t match their strength–rather, mobile development would focus on apps), they did say ” [Nintendo] have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters.” meaning the opportunity certainly exists for Star Fox on your tablet.

In the same management briefing, Nintendo also detailed plans to release a new piece of hardware in the coming years: Dubbed a QOL (Quality-Of-Life) platform, this device would be used to monitor heart rate and user health and “Improve people’s quality of life in enjoyable ways”.

“As those who are already suffering from illness can seek medical care, our new business domain would… enable people to monitor their health,” Nintendo continued. “However, what is generally good for health requires some kind of effort to be made by the individual, and… it is sometimes difficult to stay focused and engaged, and it is not uncommon to give up after a few days.”

It wasn’t detailed exactly how this hardware would work, or what it looked like, or if it needed a 3DS/Wii U to function: just that Nintendo was working on it.   It would certainly be interesting to see Dr. Mario used for actual health purposes, but if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed (spoiler: they are) Nintendo might not be the one making that Dr. Mario game.  Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed that Nintendo is currently in talks with several developers, working on ways to let other companies outside Nintendo use some of their cherished IP, from Mario or Metroid.   Granted, these developers would be on a very short leash–any developer couldn’t go crazy with any IP they acquire, and you won’t be seeing any of Nintendo’s IP off a Nintendo console, but it’s still a pretty dramatic step by Nintendo.  Foreshadowed, however, by the previously announced Hyrule Warriors

So Nintendo is obviously willing to take some dramatic and different steps to see itself back on top–but will it work?  Only time will tell, but in the meantime we can entertain some notions.

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