A surprising, last-minute press conference (about a 2 hour window before it was held) was held by game-maker Nintendo and mobile portal and commerce company DeNA (pronounced DNA) today. The conference was billed as a "Business and Capital Alliance Announcement" between Nintendo and DeNA. Presenting were Director and President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata and President and CEO of DeNA Isao Moriyasu.
The presentation itself was very no-frills, with mostly just black text on white slides and the two men talking. No specifics of any games or IP were announced. However, that's not to say no news was made. Iwata has long championed their current model of videogames, that is the coupling, dedicated games and gaming hardware despite the pressure for Nintendo to go to the mobile market. Iwata has questioned the value of going mobile, since there is a lot of shovelware in the market, and Nintendo's feeling that the model often devalues gaming content. This has been sometimes overblown to say that Nintendo hates mobile.
With the pressure to go mobile Iwata has said in the past that Nintendo will put Nintendo-related content on mobile platforms where appropriate. In the past, that meant things such as the Pokémon Pokédex on iOS. Now though, it seems that Nintendo may be ready to put some "real" games on mobile using Nintendo IP.
So how does DeNA fit in? Well, DeNA does own Mobage, which is the most popular cell phone gaming platform in Japan. Nintendo and DeNA will jointly be developing and operating gaming applications for smart devices utlilizing Nintendo IP globally. Though Iwata said that any Nintendo IP will be available for mobile games, they intend to make usage of the IP a narrow one. Make no mistake, there won't be straight ports between Nintendo devices and smart phones said Iwata:
"Please also note that, even if we use the same IP on our dedicated video game systems and smart devices, we will not port the titles for the former to the latter just as they are. There are significant differences in the controls, strengths and weaknesses between the controllers for dedicated game systems and the touchscreens of smart devices. We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP."
As noted previously, no Nintendo IP or game titles were announcemed yet to make the leap to mobile. However, that is not to say that nothing was given a name… even if it was just a codename. To emphasize that Nintendo is dedicated to gaming on its own platforms, Iwata mentioned that Nintendo will reveal their next gaming platform next year:
"As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business, let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept under the development codename “NX.” It is too early to elaborate on the details of this project, but we hope to share more information with you next year."
There are no details on this new product yet, and Nintendo fanboys and gaming enthusiasts are probably heavily speculating on NX right now. It might be worth noting that Iwata did not specify it as being a handheld or home console device, just "platform". Also, that it's a "brand-new" concept, which could indicate a new form factor or class of device. Only Nintendo knows for now.
To enhance the mystery, a new "membership service" was announced. This looks to be somewhat of a replacement for the Club Nintendo service that is ending this year and is said to be applicable to the current Nintendo 3DS & Wii U and also will be for NX plus other devices. It also may be Nintendo's answer to the criticisms of not having a modern day account system. Iwata again:
"Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service. Unlike the Club Nintendo membership service that Nintendo has been operating, the new membership service will include multiple devices and create a connection between Nintendo and each individual consumer regardless of the device the consumer uses. This membership will form one of the core elements of the new Nintendo platform that I just mentioned."
As for the "capital alliance" portion, each company will own a part of each other's stock.
Those are some of the major highlights to the press conference. No specific titles were announced, but it may be a start toward a more modern Nintendo; a company that has for several years been seens as somewhat "old fashioned" in adopting new technologies.
Here's the presentation transcript:
And a stream of the event. The actual presentation starts at around the 32:20 mark: