Nintendo, unlike many software developers, has chosen to ignore the goldmine that is Apple’s App Store by refusing to develop its titles for iOS. It’s almost guaranteed that the Japanese company would make an absolute killing if it just brought fan favorites like Super Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon to our iPhones and iPads. But president Satoru Iwata is adamant it will only develop titles for its own hardware.
There are signs, however, that Nintendo is cracking. It just released its first paid iOS app, a mobile version of the Nintendo 3DS’s Pokédex, to customers in Japan.
Pokédex is an encyclopedia that includes all the Pokémon that exist in Nintendo’s latest Pokémon Black and Pokémon White games. It also offers packs of Pokemon from previous titles, which can be added via in-app purchases. It’s now selling for ¥170 (about $2) in Japan, but it’s not yet available worldwide.
The app is actually developed by Creatures Inc., the co-creators of the main Pokémon game series, which is owned by Nintendo.
Of course, this release has sparked lots of excited speculation that Nintendo may have changed its stance on developing for iOS. The company’s recent struggles — which have forced it to accept a loss on every Nintendo 3DS sold, and soon on every Wii U — have been well-documented, and its investors have been urging the company to develop for Apple’s hugely lucrative mobile platform.
It’s possible, then, that this is the first of many Nintendo titles to come — or at least the first of many Creature Inc. games.
We’re not going to get our hopes up too much until we see Nintendo fully embracing the App Store with a big game. This could simply be a method of making some quick cash on a spin-off while keeping its main titles exclusive to its own consoles.
But if it does well, you never know.