Gaming giant Nintendo has u-turned on its policy to release titles only on its own hardware with the announcement that it will be creating content for smart devices.
The Japanese firm will look to shift its strong IP backlog and memorable characters to the mobile platform in a bid to generate revenue to support slumping Wii U console sales.
Nintendo and mobile games developer DeNA will look to extend the reach of its gaming titles to the mobile platform for the first time despite its chief executive Satoru Iwata in 2011 stating his distaste of free-to-play games: "We have no intention to provide a property to any other platforms, or making them available in a mode that does not require consumers to pay at all."
A statement from the company released today (Tuesday 17 March) read: “The alliance is intended to complement Nintendo's dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo's reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide.
"Under the alliance, DeNA will also be able to strengthen its gaming business at a global scale by leveraging Nintendo's IP.”
Utku Tansel, head of toys and games at Euromonitor International said: "Nintendo’s strategy of software exclusivity has been undermined by the rise of mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets, and ongoing technological improvements to these devices, especially as casual gamers form a core consumer group for the company.
"Furthermore, the handheld video game consoles category, in which Nintendo remains dominant, is increasingly seeing its position undermined by mobile games, which is seeing strong growth driven by the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, and improvements to the gaming experiences on such devices."
He concluded: "The growth of mobile (often free-to-play) gaming on devices such as smartphones is threatening hand-held consoles, which accounted for 32 per cent of Nintendo’s video games sales in 2013. Nintendo’s new partnership with DeNA is addressing this issue."
Nintendo confirmed however that it will not be porting its back catalogue of titles to smartphone but will instead task DeNA with creating new games – using established characters.
Just last month, the firm launched free-to-play Candy Crush-clone ‘Pokemon Shuffle’ on its handheld gaming device, the 3DS. This signified that Nintendo was developing a growing interest in the mobile gaming platform.