Nintendo said in Tokyo today it has formed an alliance with the mobile developer DeNA to bring its famous characters to mobile devices.
That looks like a total turnaround for Nintendo, whose president last year insisted that neither Mario nor the company’s other characters would ever appear on a smartphone.
But the announcement doesn’t mean smartphone users will suddenly be able to play their old Nintendo favorites on their Android or iOS devices. Instead, Nintendo will license DeNA to use its intellectual property, “including its iconic game characters,” to create entirely new games for the mobile market. In keeping with earlier promises, no existing Nintendo game will be ported from consoles to smartphone. Whether that’s good news or bad depends on whether you only want to play the classics, or are happy to see more new titles come out.
As part of the ”business and capital alliance” the two companies have entered into—each company is investing 22 billion yen ($181 million) worth of shares in the other—DeNA will also be responsible for building a “multi-device membership service” that will span smart devices, PC, and Nintendo platforms.
For Nintendo’s shareholders, that news can’t come soon enough. The company kicked off 2015 with a profit warning after sales of its 3DS handheld struggled in the usually robust holiday quarter. Nintendo is also trying to reverse three straight years of financial losses.