Instead of flooding the smartphone gaming market with Mario and Zelda, Nintendo says it’s picking its mobile battles carefully.
The company plans to release five smartphone games by the end of its next fiscal year, which concludes in March 2017. As announced before, Nintendo is collaborating with Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA, and will launch its first smartphone game by the end of this year.
“You may think it is a small number,” Nintendo said of the five planned titles in an earnings statement, “but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business.”
Nintendo hasn’t given any details on the games themselves, or even which Nintendo characters will star in them. However, the company has insisted that it won’t create simple ports of its console games, and reiterated that it hopes the smartphone games will “create a bridge” to its own hardware.
To that end, Nintendo is working on a membership service that will tie its games together across all platforms, including smartphones, the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and an upcoming console codenamed “NX.” For games that are available on multiple devices, users will be able to buy them once and play them anywhere—a long-requested feature for virtual console games in Nintendo’s eShop.
Why this matters: Nintendo is trying to strike a balance with the number of smartphone games it puts out. Speaking to Time last March, President and CEO Satoru Iwata said most mobile game makers rely on a single knockout title, whereas Nintendo can draw on a large cast of recognizable characters. At the same time, the company doesn’t want to place too many bets and risk devaluing its content. If Nintendo spreads things out, it sounds like users can expect a new smartphone game every few months or so.