Nintendo: iPhone Games Cost Us Almost $1B

Nintendo: iPhone Games Cost Us Almost $1B

It’s not quite Game Over for Nintendo, but Angry Birds and other iPhone games cost the company nearly $1 billion for the first half of 2011. What’s more, an aging Wii is being overshadowed as more and more gamers turn to smartphones. It’s enough to give Donkey Kong indigestion.

The game maker expects a net loss of $923 million in the six months ended September 30 and predicts a $264 million loss for the complete year, which ends in March 2012. It’s the first loss the Japanese game maker has posted in over thirty years.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said games on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Android devices allow consumers to walk away from traditional game consoles. Earlier this year, feeling the pressure from Apple iOS devices, Nintendo slashed prices for its new 3DS from $249 to $168 – an $80 reduction.

Although the game maker said it would never release an iOS version of its popular Mario franchise, this summer a private company that owns the Pokemon license released a Pokemon game, Pokemon Tap, for the iOS and Android platforms.

  • Lance Hall

    Well this is a no brainer. Release Mario for iOS and me and about a few million others will pay you $0.99… several times. 

  • Atienne

    Me thinks its time for Satoru to eat a little crow, and realize that no matter how much he pisses and moans about it, its a mobile phone world now. No one is going to carry two devices around when they don’t have too. In other words… ” you don’t cut off your nose…..”

  • Yasaswy Nagavolu

    Either they should build a nPhone or become a software company..

  • HelveticaNeue

    Release Mario Bros, Mario Kart and Zelda on iOS and the iPhone will make you 1 Billion dollars.

  • Seoung

    Nintendo would make a crap load of money if they released all their games for the iOS… I would play zelda all day and night!!

  • Daniel

    seriously…jump on board with iOS and develop games that can work on iOS devices as well as interact with the console.  they are complaining about something that could MAKE them a billion dollars.

  • thomin

    Yeah, well, and Sega was never going to release a Sonic game on a Nintendo platform…until it did.
    I’m predicting the same thing for Nintendo. The Wii was Nintendo’s last hurrah. It was a great console at the right time. But that ship has sailed and the Wii U will not come anywhere near the success of the original Wii.

    The 3DS is already a dog. Having to slash your price so early after the release speaks volumes (Sony, are you listening? Your PSVita won’t be doing any better). The future of mobile gaming belongs to phones…no, actually it’s the present already. 

    The situation in the living room is different, but unless Nintendo comes up with something great soon, that ship will have sailed forever soon. And who knows what’s in store in the future, maybe something like the AppleTV will rule there as well.
    Be that as it may, even if Nintendo manages to stay in people’s living rooms, if they want a piece of the mobile pie, they’ll have to sell games for iOS and Android…actually, that would be something Apple should be after: An exclusive partnership with Nintendo. Sure, Nintendo isn’t ready to do any such thing yet, but they’ll cave in eventually.

  • RonBlatto

    At least release the classis NES/SNES games that most iPhone 4 owners grew up playing.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d pay $5.00 a pop to have Super Metroid and Zelda on my iPad/iPhone.

  • FriarNurgle

    Actually they would make 666 million. Apple would get the other 333 million.

  • Tronjheim79

    Pokemon, please.

  • ctt1wbw

    This is the same company that refuses to release an iOS version of anything.  Hello, Nintendo?  Anyone in there with a proper business model and forecast???

  • Stephen Brain

    The iPhone doesn’t cost them one cent.  Failing to make competitive products costs them money.

  • CharliK

    You assume the sales would be $1 billion gross. It might be more than that.

    And the split is 70/30 so your math is a little off

  • Alfiejr

    Nintendo’s failure to put out a Wii HD update by 2010, when MS added Kinnect to the XBox and Sony added Move to the PS3, was stunning business incompetence. anyone could see far in advance those major updates of these otherwise much more powerful STB’s that matched the Wii’s motion UI would crush sales of the original Wii. leading directly to this $1 Billion loss for just half of FY 2011.

    and then on top of that, to fail for one more full year to finally bring out this next gen Wii U in 2011, is beyond incompetence. it is outright dereliction of business responsibility. by the time it goes on sale in 2012, Nintendo’s loss for this year will have doubled to $2 Billion, not shrink as now being promised.

    and then it gets even worse … instead of integrating this year’s new and equally-important-to-Nintendo 3DS with the upcoming Wii U to serve as its remote control, and thereby reinforce sales of both, the Wii U will have a different and much dumber tablet remote control of its own. which basically relegates it to the isolated “toy” market forever. while everyone else is building integrated digital home ecosystems that include their PGP’s, STB’s, smartphones, and tablets.

    there is no hope for Nintendo with this leadership. it is going to die. only question is who will gobble up the remains in 2-3 years.

  • AlecTheFirst

    I would buy every one they released.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Maybe Nintendo should get in the iOS business instead of letting their company go down the warp pipes. 

  • baby_Twitty

    The mother of all games that will make an instant 1 billion for Nintendo on the iOS devices is NONE OTHER than the POKEMON series. Nintendo knows this, its just their pride that is standing in the way.

    Mark my words, the day Pokemon comes to the iOS devices, is the day Angry birds will be knock down the charts forever.

  • Wayne_Luke

    Instead of releasing iOS games, I think Nintendo will go the route of selling an Android powered mobile device with an Nintendo emulator for games. They want people to pay $20-$60 dollars for console games not 99 cents. They want developers to pony up large licensing fees to work on their consoles. This and the lack of non-gimmick technology advances like those seen in other console manufacturers will be their undoing. It is a shame because Nintendo makes some good games and has great franchises. You would think they would monetize them better.

  • al friede

    it was here on com or on tuaw where iwata said in a post about a year or two ago that nintendo wasn’t worried about the iphone/ipod touch at all for gaming, and carried on until they were forced to lower their 3ds prices. just like sony, if they continue on with their arrogance in the same manner they always have, it’ll be the death of nintendo! 

  • gregbraddock

    Man… you can’t convince the japanese to stop killing whales or release their titles on ios. DAMN!

  • Joseph Joel

    Nintendo will not bring their games to iOS for the same reason Apple will not bring OSX to PCs.

    Seriously, does anyone remember when Apple DID license OSX for PCs? They almost completely shut down.

    And I hate that people honestly think that iOS was the reason for the price cut. The PSVita’s price was announces about a week before, which was $250. The 3DS was vastly underpowered compared to the Vita, so Nintendo slashes its price.

    As a nintendo fanboy I say: Fuck you Nintendo, I’m going Vita.

  • Joseph Joel

    Nintendo will not bring their games to iOS for the same reason Apple will not bring OSX to PCs.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Not really. Nintendo refuses to move to other platforms for two reasons: exclusives build the brand, and pride. 
    Your comparison would be as though Nintendo let you play Wii games on your XBox. They want to control the hardware and the OS, thats the only place where a similarity to Apple can be drawn. 

    Nintendo’s investors want them branching out. I’m sure Nintendo eventually will cave in. 

  • Ronald Stepp

    Innovate or Die.

  • Alfiejr

    as a few here have said, Nintendo’s fatal flaw is its pride and arrogance. they had a great run with several smash hits – Mario etc., the DS, and the Wii. and so they thought they were invincible.

    but now all their competition have leaped far beyond them, and they’re dead meat. because they refuse to admit it.

  • JM

    It is fiduciary malfeasance of a high order for Nintendo not to at least test the iOS waters with a game or two.

  • YTY

    man…real gamer don’t play mario in the ios…i wouldn’t wan to play tat in my iphone4…who wan to play tat in a touch screen…i wan real buttons!!!…thats y i bought a 3ds…

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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