Nintendo chief executive officer Satoru Iwata delivered on his promise to generate a full-year profit, but achieving that goal has not made him any less vague about the future.
Following its earnings report, Nintendo issued a statement from Iwata that briefly highlighted some of the company’s upcoming projects. These include its traditional gaming business, its mobile games, and its still-unannounced quality-of-life platform. The CEO failed to really touch on any specific plans, but it’s clear that he’s defined an overarching theme for the strategy he wants to pursue. And it has everything to do with making Nintendo different from everything else.
“Since the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, Nintendo has been offering the world unique and original entertainment products under the development concept of hardware and software integration,” said Iwata. “We will continue to value the spirit of originality described in our motto: ‘The True Value of Entertainment Lies in Individuality’ and will continue to provide products and services which pleasantly surprise people.”
So Nintendo will continue to justify its existence by making products unlike everyone else. That worked with the Wii and it didn’t really work with the Wii U. But it also sounds like the publisher is going to get smarter and more aggressive moving forward across all facets of its business.
Teaming up with Japanese mobile-game publisher DeNA is a move that qualifies as both aggressive and smart, and Nintendo reiterated some of its plans for that space in its financial report.
“A new game business which utilizes Nintendo IP on smart devices will start rolling out this year,” reads the report. “As control methods and gameplay environments differ between dedicated video game platforms and smart devices, even if the same IP is used for both platforms, the games will not be the same; they will be optimized for each platform. In this way, Nintendo will maximize the value of its IP by encouraging a broader audience to experience its appeal and drive the expansion of the gaming population.”
Another point of aggression for Nintendo is how it plans to leverage its properties. The company already announced that it’s partnering with Universal Parks & Resorts to bring characters like Mario to Universal Studios. But it doesn’t sound like its plans will end with that.
“For Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising,” the report continues. “By flexibly selecting the optimal method of communication for each individual IP in order to increase visibility for a wider audience, a certain level of revenue from the IP licensing business is expected and at the same time we aim to increase the opportunity for more consumers to become familiar with our games.”
But the one thing that Iwata touched on more than anything else was the aforementioned quality-of-life platform. Iwata says — as he has said previously — that he wants to make improving your health enjoyable. Even with Nintendo making smartphone games now, the shift toward the personal-health business is still the biggest departure for the company that has made Mario games for the last 30-plus years.
But Iwata points out that Nintendo has a long history of changing and adapting.
“After Nintendo started the manufacture and sale of Hanafuda [playing cards] 125 years ago, it has innovated itself from a playing-card company to a toy company, a toy company to an electronic-toy company, and finally from an electronic-toy company to a company developing video game platforms,” said Iwata. “Nintendo has continued to try new things, and with a history of experiencing many failures and small successes, we managed to pioneer the home video game market. What has remained the same from the past is that we have always tried to create something new from materials and technologies available at that time, to position entertainment as our core business, and to improve people’s ‘QOL’ in enjoyable ways. We will continue to value self-innovation in line with the times and aim for growth.”