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Nintendo Financeial Results Briefing 2014 Overview: Adapting

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Since their entry into the video game market in the 80’s, Nintendo has been a company of innovation. From the original GameBoy to the 3DS, the Famicom to the Wii U, Nintendo has always tried to innovate the way gamers interact with video games. However with the dawn of powerful mobile devices and extremely cheap games, Nintendo has been left in the dust this generation. Sure they are still committed to making games fun for all ages, but the industry is quickly changing. And they have to adapt in order to remain relevant. So how do they adapt? Iwata brings up again five points that Nintendo will work on that he mentioned back in January during the Corporate Management Briefing. These points are redefining a video game platform, taking advantage of smart devices actively, active utilization of character IP, changing our approach to new markets, and expanding into new business areas. Though Iwata goes over each one briefly, we will look at the two that covers the overseas market, which are the following: taking advantage of smart devices and active utilization of character IP. The reason being is that the other three points deal with Japan exclusively and the overseas market is the dominate market that Nintendo is trying to focus on.

 

For the longest time Nintendo had a very strong stance Nintendo games on smart devices. When mobile games were on the rise and everyone was hailing the death of consoles, Iwata stated in January’s investor’s briefing that:

The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It’s not that simple. The key is to figure out a way to use smartphones to make people aware of Nintendo’s games, and encourage them to try out the console version of the games. It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones

 

With that in mind, Iwata goes on to explain a new feature in Mario Kart 8 that will help people become aware of the game. That feature is Mario Kart TV. Mario Kart TV allows users to post up racing highlight reels and share them on the internet. In conjuration with Mario Kart TV, a web/mobile service will launched along side Mario Kart 8 that will allow users to view highlight reels when not playing Mario Kart 8. Users will also be able to look at stats, rankings, leader board, tournaments and much more on a computer or on a smart device. Here is an example of what the service will look like when viewed from a smart device:

 

mktv

 

 

Honestly this is a great first step in the right direction for Nintendo. However I think most overseas fans will get confused and think that this is a full game instead of a companion app. Still its a great step in the right direction and I hope more games, like the new Super Smash Bros games for the 3DS and Wii U, get something like this. Now let’s move on to how Nintendo will take active utilization of character IP.

 

First off, what does Nintendo mean by taking active utilization of character IP? In short, it means that Nintendo must find new ways to utilize their IPs through games and other means. They have taken the first steps in recent years with game franchises like Metroid, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda. However Nintendo wants to take this much farther, so much so that this business will someday become one of their core activities. That new business is character figurines that have built in near field communication functionality and games that interact with them.

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If your first thought is “You mean Skylanders/Disney Infinity clone?” yes, but Nintendo will have a different take on it. First off, what is near field communication? Near field communication is the set of standards for smartphones or similar devices to establish radio communication through touch or being in close proximity to each other. A really good example of this is the early models of the Samsung Galaxy. There was this feature that allowed users to pass on data, pictures and various bits of information to each other just by having the smartphones come in contact with each other. This technology is totally different from technology that Skylanders and Disney Infinity uses in that with the previous two games use a type of base that relays the information to the game for it to pop up on the screen. For the Nintendo Figurine Platform (that’s the official name) most likely a HFC chip will be embedded in the base of the figure. This way players can either place the figure on top of the Wii U Game Pad, have it rest right next to it or rest near the Wii U itself.

As similar as the NFP is to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Nintendo will be going in a different direction. Instead of just releasing sequels and not having the figures be backwards compatible, the figures will be compatible with all games that will use the NFP. A good example of games that I can see using this tech to its advantage are the Mario sports games the Mario Party games, the Mario Kart games, Nintendo Land if it gets a new iteration, Super Smash Bros, and of course some type of Pokemon game. There will be even character customization within the games that the figure will pick up and you will be able to use that custom figure in other NFP compatible games.

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The Wii U isn’t the only Nintendo system that NFP will be coming to.  A 3DS version of the tech is being developed right now and Iwata hopes to see a release in the first half of next year.

Iwata ends the briefing stating that with the NFP this will help Nintendo gain exposure for the figures and the games compatible with them. NFP will be revealed at E3 next month so it will be interesting to see how Nintendo will pull this off.

 

Source: Financial Results Briefing for Fiscal Year Ended March 2014, Wall street Journal blog Japan Real Time

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