by Eddie Makuch

Why did Nintendo finally announce plans to enter the smartphone market after years of holding out? It wasn’t because the company felt “cornered,” according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. The English translation of a Q&A session with analysts from last week’s presentation in Japan has been published, and in it, Iwata offers an in-depth explanation for why the company chose to make the dramatic move.

“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 said. “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 emphasize here that our alliance [with DeNA] is not the result of a lack of better options for a cornered company.”

As for why Nintendo chose DeNA specifically as a partner for the new mobile venture, Iwata said, as discussions with the company progressed, it became clear that “DeNA knew so many things that Nintendo did not.” Partnering with DeNA allows Nintendo to tap into the company’s expertise in the mobile field and also develop games more rapidly than it could on its own, he explained.

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


Iwata also responded to one analyst’s concern that Nintendo entrance into the smartphone market (the company expects to launch its first mobile game this year) is too late. The executive doesn’t agree.

“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,” Iwata responded. “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.”

Nintendo has not announced any smartphone games so far, but has pledged it won’t simply port its console games to smartdevices. The company is also considering a range of business models, including free-to-play, which Iwata actually calls free-to-start.

Nintendo’s big move into the smartphone market has been received positively by investors, as shares of the company skyrocketed by more than 30 percent. The company also announced that it had started work on a new system, known internally as the “NX.” This system, which Nintendo says it won’t start talking about officially until 2016, aims to surprise and innovate.

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