Even in the dark years when they were caught off guard by the momentum of the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo has kept their characters in-house, exclusive to Nintendo brand hardware. They learned their lesson from the dark days of the CD-i.
Now, though, investors within Nintendo are pressuring the beleaguered gaming giant to bring their most well-known properties like Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda and Pokemon to other platforms… specifically, the App Store.
The logic’s easy to understand. Nintendo’s latest portable, the 3DS, just isn’t selling well, and has had its price slashed just a few months after its debut. The Wii is also selling poorly, and its iPad inspired successor, the Wii U, won’t be on sale until 2012 at the earliest. Profits are in the toilet. Something needs to be done.
Bring Mario to the App Store (as well as other consoles) is one way to shore up earnings short-term, but is it the best move for the future? Nintendo’s properties are a powerful incentive towards buying their hardware.
My guess is that we’re about to witness Nintendo making the transition that Sega did a decade ago: from a hardware business to a software business. I just wonder how long Nintendo will drag their feet.