Investor Pressures Nintendo To Start Making iPhone & iPad Games



This week, Oasis Management founder Seth Fischer sent a letter to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, once again demanding that the House That Mario Built release games for the iPhone, iPad and other mobiel platforms.

“The same people who spent hours playing Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Legend of Zelda as children are now a demographic whose engagement on the smartphone is valued by the market at well over $100 billion,” the hedge fund manager wrote. Fischer says that Nintendo is “well placed to make an immediate entry into mobile” with “arguably the largest library of casual games.”

Generally speaking, Apple fans tend to agree with Fischer. After all, by all appearances, it seems like the iPhone is killing Nintendo by the death of a thousand cuts. Nintendo has even acknowledged that iPhone games have cost the company over a billion dollars in lost sales, and that they will soon be experimenting with iOS apps.

That said, Nintendo is, in many ways, the Apple of Japan. Not only do they specialize in integrating hardware and software, they have a comparatively huge war chest that means they can afford to take time to regroup. Nintendo has been in this situation before, after all: Apple lost the gaming edge with the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, only to regain it with the Nintendo Wii. To become a software-only maker for mobile devices is to essentially give up what makes the company great. It’s the equivalent of Apple selling OS X to any computer that can run it, a la Windows.

On his part, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata says that just because everyone has iPhones “doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones,” and seeing what Fischer envisions for an iPhone version of Super Mario Bros., it’s easy to understand why.

“We believe Nintendo can create very profitable games based on in-game revenue models with the right development team. Just think of paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump a little higher.”

Is that really the Nintendo game people want to be playing on their iPhones?

  • Guest

    Brownlee, you couldn’t be more wrong in your analogy. If Nintendo released to the original super Mario Brothers and legend of Zelda game for the iPhone it would be a huge boon to their business. These legacy games have absolutely nothing to do with Nintendo’s current strategy going forward. Nintendo has never re-released the original Mario Bros, Punch Out, Legend of Zelda, or any of these types of games either on the Wii, the Wii U, or any recent console, hand held or otherwise.

    Mac OSX is the current operating system on the Mac today. Mac OSX is very relevant today to Apple. The original Mario Bros, Punch Out, Legend of Zelda, being released on iPhone would be like Apple releasing the original Mac OS that ran on the original 1984 Mac. The original 1984 Mac is irrelevant to Apple today, much like the original Mario Bros is irrelevant to Nintendo today. Nintendo is releasing new Mario Bros games on the Wii U, but they are updates to the original with better graphics and gameplay. They are not releasing the original Mario Bros for the Wii U.

    • jonathanober

      What do you mean Nintendo has never re-released those games on either Wii or WiiU? Haven’t you ever visited the Nintendo virtual console eshop area on a 3DS or Wii or WiiU? I have the original Mario on my 3DS, my kids love it since it’s easier for them with less buttons to remember for my 4 year old. I love going back through old Zelda and Metroid.

    • Javier

      I noticed how you haven’t used a nintendo console since the appearance of the game boy advance, which had all the original classics you named.
      And then there’s the virtual console for Wii, 3DS, Wii U with a more extensive catalog of classic games.

  • Chuck McGinley

    Umm… Might want to fix this line:

    “Apple lost the gaming edge with the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube, only to regain it with the Nintendo Wii.”

    What did Apple lose???

  • Michael Smith

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for Nintendo to make an android powered handheld?
    Like an android version of the iPod touch except with game controls built in. Developers could license the hard wired controller

    • Anthony Velazquez

      I think most people don’t want a separate gaming device. I for one would pay a good chunk of change to even be able to play old NES/SNES games on my iphone.

      • jonathanober
      • Michael Smith

        I totally agree, I don’t want a separate game device either. Nintendo for some reason is reluctant, possibly because they want in some degree to remain in control of the hardware.

    • Eva Amore

      Screw you. I want a SYSTEM. When I play games I ignore my phone and, play away haha. :p