Nintendo CEO: Smartphone games are worthless

In a feisty attack on the fastest-growing sectors of the video-game industry, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said that smartphone games and social-media games focus on quantity instead of quality.

“They are not like gaming consoles, there’s no motivation [for] high-value video games,” Iwata said at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Iwata said he’s worried about the future of the industry. Big game companies pour millions of dollars into game development, and only a few of the titles become megahits like Halo or Super Mario. It was hard to get attention before and now, with tens of thousands of new titles, it has become even harder.

He listed Nintendo, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 as what he considers high-value gaming platforms: “We have some differences in the way we do business but games always come first. The console is just to enable gaming.”

On the other hand, social networks and mobile-software platforms like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system focus on getting as many apps as possible. Smartphone manufacturers naturally want to sell devices, while social media sites seek to have as many active users as possible.

Mobile games are less expensive to create, but sell for less — or nothing at all.

“92 percent of mobile games are free, and the rest are sold with a low price”, said Iwata. “We have always been able to make a living with games.”

And he would clearly like to keep it that way. Too bad so many consumers and investors disagree.

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