It’s time Nintendo started letting people play its games on other platforms

Super Mario’s owner could do with some blue sky thinking.
Super Mario’s owner could do with some blue sky thinking.
Image: Reuters/Toru Hanai
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The numbers: Nintendo Co., the japanese company behind Super Mario, Pokemon and the Wii gaming console, posted an operating loss of ¥23.28 billion ($237 million) for the six month period ending in September. While that number is slightly better than the ¥29.19 billion loss the company reported for the same period last year, it severely jeopardizes Nintendo’s ability to meet its ¥100 billion target for fiscal 2014. Shares are down 1.5% in pre-market trading.

The takeaway: New-age consoles by Sony and Microsoft have been eating Nintendo’s lunch lately, and the trend is only likely to worsen for the world’s largest gaming company. Both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are each set to launch next month, and Nintendo’s newest offering—the Wii U—hasn’t been selling as well as Nintendo hoped it would. But Nintendo is also facing competition from outside the gaming console world. Smartphones and tablets, which are increasingly becoming go-to platforms for game-playing, are stealing away some of the gaming console market, too. The launch of the Wii helped buoy the company’s sales in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but they’ve since trailed off steeply.

What’s interesting:  Nintendo has long kept its franchises to itself—none of its games, not Mario, Zelda or Pokemon are offered on any other platform. The company has also skipped out on the smartphone and tablet game market, insisting that focusing on its hardware and existing franchises is still the key to keeping its fans content. Entering the smartphone and tablet world, Nintendo has held, would jeopardize its other businesses, since an ability to play its games on iPhones and iPads would discourage people from buying Nintendo devices. But their devices are selling poorly—sales are down from last year, after sales from last year were down from the year prior. That’s just one more sign that Nintendo has little to lose from experimenting with new and varied markets and sources of income.