Iwata: Nintendo was not cornered into smartphone backtrack

Nintendo’s change of mind in deciding to bring its titles to smartphones did not come about because the company believed it had run out of options.

That’s according to director and president Satoru Iwata, who explained in a now translated transcription of a chat with investors the reasons behind his change of attitude towards developing titles for non-Nintendo hardware.

A variety of media have written that Nintendo is cornered a number of times, but I do not think we were cornered at all,” he argued. Needless to say, we are also aware that unless a company can deal with the rapidly changing world, it will face decline. But I would like to emphasise here that our alliance [with DeNA] is not the result of a lack of better options for a cornered company.

When I first met with [DeNA president and CEO] Mr Moriyasu I started to wonder if there was anything we could work on together. After that, the more we discussed, the more I realized that DeNA knew so many things that Nintendo did not. Mr Moriyasu even said that DeNA did not mind remaining in the background as long as it could collaborate with Nintendo, and I came to realize that this could be a very productive opportunity as in comparison to what Nintendo might have been able to achieve by itself.

This is why I just said that this is not a decision made out of a lack of options. In fact, Nintendo has received a number of proposals from a variety of companies. Among them, Nintendo has proactively chosen DeNA.”

Iwata was then pressed further, with accusations that was is being dressed up as a business decision is in fact a change of heart and admission of a strategic failure.

We have finally found a clear way to achieve a win-win relationship both for the dedicated video game and smart device businesses by deploying Nintendo IP raised in dedicated video game systems to smart devices,” Iwata said, implying that a smartphone strategy was previously rejected only because Nintendo was yet to identify a satisfactory solution.

Another thing is collaborating with a powerful partner, DeNA. Instead of one company having to do everything, this partnership will enable us to not assign an excessive number of development staff to areas where weaknesses exist, and as a result will help us avoid disturbances to our software development for dedicated video game systems. We have found an answer to creating an advantageous situation for both sides by letting more people know about Nintendo IP and bridging the gap between these two platforms.

You mentioned that what I explained today sounded different from what we have said in the past. Please understand that I had been hoping to come up with this sort of solution and that I was finally able to talk about the whole picture today, because various prospects we had been considering and working on have come together as we had hoped, so I personally feel very comfortable today.

As for your criticism that the decision is late, I think that whether it is late or not will be decided by what we produce in the coming years, and it could rather be described as the best timing. My personal view is that the time is ripe as many factors like various encounters with people, the ways our internal discussions have progressed and the ideas we have generated through that process occurred simultaneously. We will do our best to prove that our decision was made at the right time.”

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