Japanese video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd is planning to venture into smartphone games, after a swarm of calls from investors asked Nintendo to boost revenue by taking its iconic characters like Super Mario to players increasingly shunning its consoles.
Nintendo is teaming up with online gaming firm DeNA Co Ltd to develop and operate gaming apps. The two companies will also launch later this year an online membership service accessible on mobile devices as well as Nintendo's existing Wii U console and the portable 3DS.
"This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told reporters. "It doesn't mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand."
Investors have long called on Nintendo to shift its focus to mobile devices after losing customers to both smartphone gaming app makers and console rivals like PlayStation maker Sony Corp and Xbox maker Microsoft Corp.
The company had so far resisted these calls, pinning hopes on hit games such as "Mario Kart 8". But in January, it halved its operating earnings target for the current fiscal year to 20 billion yen ($169 million), citing weak 3DS sales. The move into smartphone apps could further dent console sales, some analysts said, despite assurances by President Satoru Iwata that Nintendo was committed to making gaming machines.