Will Nintendo allow Mario to make move into mobile?
Nintendo can reinvent itself as a games company by cashing in on its vast intellectual property following the success of Pokemon Go.
That is the view of a chief investment officer with specialist knowledge of the Asian market.
After Nintendo posted a 5.13 billion yen (£37 million) operating loss, Seth Fischer of Hong Kong-based investment firm Oasis told CNBC that he expected Nintendo to fully embracing mobile as a platform.
“The phenomenon is that up until now, and even in their guidance, [Nintendo] doesn’t really understand the full impact of how big mobile is and how profitable it can be for the company,” Fischer said.
The Japanese gaming company resisted the move into mobile until 2015, when it signed a deal with Japanese game developer DeNA to release five mobile games by March 2017.
The first of those was the Miitomo app, which has attracted more than 10 million users worldwide since its March launch.
Its next two games, due for release this year, could be just as successful. Animal Crossing is a simple game suited to mobile which appeals to children as well as adults while Fire Emblem has also been a massive success on the 3DS handheld console.
However it is the worldwide smash Pokemon Go which has really made Nintendo sit up and take notice.
The augmented reality game – in which users seek Pokemon creatures ‘in the real world’ using their phones – was created by Niantic, in which Nintendo owns a stake. It also owns a 32 per cent stake in the Pokemon Company, which owns the intellectual property.
Despite not making the game or owning all the rights to its long-time franchise – the most popular of all time in terms of games sold – it led to a massive boost in the value of Nintendo.
“This is great for Nintendo,” Fischer told CNBC. “They have an enormous amount of patents, about 4,000.
“We think they can make an additional $300-800m a year of monetisation of their mobile game [patents], as well as multiplayer patents.”
Apple said it is investing heavily in AR following the success of Pokemon Go, which some analysts believe could make the iPhone maker $3bn purely through hosting the iOS app.
Imagine the potential if Nintendo were to make use of its iconic figurehead Mario in mobile gaming.
It could be the way forward, as its legacy console business is struggling.
It announced that worldwide sales for both the 3DS and the handheld’s software fell seven per cent year-on-year to 940,000 and 8.47m units respectively.
Sales of the full-size Wii U console fell 53 per cent year-on-year to just 220,000.
“Nintendo is moving from a hardware supplier with games to just a game company, with some hardware,” Peter Boardman, managing director at Tradewinds Global Investors, told CNBC.
“You have seen hardware products like Wii U, 3DS and [other] handheld products falling off a cliff.”
Sega, which contested the ‘console wars’ with Nintendo in the 1990s as the companies fought for market share with their respective Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES machines, exited the hardware scene more than 15 years ago after the Dreamcast struggled to compete with the Playstation 2.
It reinvented itself as a games maker and is making Sonic the Hedgehog games for previously rival platforms, including Nintendo, to this day.