Nintendo: Is Mario Ready for Mobile?

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As a child of the 80s, my earliest gaming memories involve the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and heroes like Mega Man, Link, and Kid Icarus battling evil in an 8-bit world. Today, Nintendo is faced with an equally difficult challenge: relevancy. Losing out in the console wars to the likes of Microsoft and Sony, this gaming trailblazer has been tasked with getting back in the spotlight—first step, mobile gaming.

This week Nintendo announced its initial play in the world of mobile gaming with ‘Miitomo.’ The smartphone app is free and allows users to create a Mii to interact with others—not exactly Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Donkey Kong or Tetris. While the app won’t be released until 2016, it begs the question: what else does Nintendo have up their sleeve?

Those of us that recall the original Nintendo experience can still hear the “dungeon music” ringing in our heads, but Miitomo accompanied by Pokemon Shuffle and Pokemon Go will be Nintendo’s introduction to mobile gaming.  

The initial reaction has not been positive for the short term, while after its March announcement Nintendo’s stock jumped upward of 65 percent, the Miitomo announcement resulted in a 10 percent dip.

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However, the optimism in March was not unwarranted, as investors still see hope on the horizon for Nintendo in the mobile space. Games like Super Mario Bros., Zelda and the many classics gamers have come to know and love are expected to enter the mobile gaming space—Nintendo has promised five smart devices apps by March 2017. As Atul Goyal a Jeffries analyst told Barrons, the “big guns will be pulled out next year.”

Nintendo hopes to take a big bite out of a mobile gaming market with a projected valuation of $40 billion by 2018.

In addition to mobile, Nintendo is currently developing a new game console and revamping the Nintendo online experience. Nintendo users have long been complaining about its account system, with the current upgrade gamers can sign into their “My Nintendo” account and have one login for all smart and Nintendo devices. My Nintendo will also offer personalized offers and redeemable points.

The new console, codenamed “NX” will offer an improved online experience and be internet focused to compete with the most recent iterations of the Playstation and Xbox—but only time will tell.

The near term may still appear murky for Nintendo, but many are positive about its future. For me, I am cautiously optimistic. Nintendo has fallen from my favor for some time, as since the days in the dorm playing Super Mario Kart, I have turned in my Club Nintendo card for an Xbox Live membership.

The move toward mobile makes a lot of sense. Many gamers would love to relive the caffeine induced memories of beating Mike Tyson and finally completing Punch-Out for the first time or overcoming the ninth and final dungeon in the original Zelda, and what way would be better than via something today’s always-plugged in, always-on society never leaves home without: their smartphone.

At this point, it is fair to say that Nintendo is far from game over but is nowhere near the prominence it once enjoyed. The jury is still out on new President Tatsumi Kimishima; let’s view this as a “save point” and just one step in the fight to regain relevancy in the gaming world.

What was your favorite Nintendo game? Let the comments below begin…




Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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