Before there was FarmVille or Candy Crush, if people wanted a game that could be played while on the go, there was really only Nintendo to turn to. Since the original Game Boy’s release in 1989, Nintendo has brought fun and family-friendly gaming out of the living room and into the mobile market. Today, with their partnership with DeNa, Nintendo is making its first foray away from a dedicated mobile game device market and into the wider world of smartphone gaming.
Nintendo’s Games and IPs
Much of Nintendo’s strength comes from its original content. Most people have heard of Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon, which are three of the biggest IPs in video game history.
Because these games started out in the era of 8-bit graphics, they have the advantage of being fun without the necessity for high-end graphics and realism to sell. This style also cuts down on the amount of power needed to draw the game. Power is precious to smartphone users, and they would rather be able to play a game without sacrificing their battery rather than playing a power-intensive game.
That being said, having the larger screen on a smartphone like the iPhone 6s Plus or the Galaxy Note5 has the advantage of being able to play and access menu systems without having to completely pause the game. Even large screen gaming devices, like the DS, have trouble doing this. And having a device that is always connected to the Internet allows for the creative use of social features that haven’t been as practical with earlier generations.
What Sony and Microsoft Don’t Have
Sony and Microsoft don’t have experience in the mobile market. Nintendo has been the dominant force in dedicated mobile gaming for the last three decades. Sony threw its hat into the ring with the PSP, but it never gained the sort of traction that the Game Boy did. Nintendo didn’t need the high-end graphics because the company was able to get by with a purely fun experience that players could hop in and out of quickly and easily. This is exactly the sort of strategy that is good for mobile gaming. The average mobile gamer plays to kill a bit of time, whether it’s on his or her commute or while waiting for a friend to show up. The ability to easily start and stop your experience is something Nintendo understands.
With the pairing of DeNa and Nintendo (as well as Niantic Labs, which is an offshoot of Google that focuses on augmented reality games), the next year will be an interesting time for Nintendo’s mobile division. This new partnership will most likely bring new and original titles instead of putting old ones on the mobile platform; however, it is unlikely to stay purely that way for long. Emulators have long been something Nintendo has fought against, so having an official emulator may encourage gamers to stop getting the content illegally.
What exactly this new partnership is going to bring is yet to be seen. But given Nintendo’s successful track record, it is almost surely going to be an interesting new step in the world of mobile gaming.