Iwata: “smartphones and tablets have changed the environment that we operate in”

Thursday, 12 July 2012 11:22 GMT By Stace Harman

Ahead of the launch of the 3DS XL later this month, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has conceded that the rise of smartphones and tablets has altered the landscape in which Nintendo operates.

In an interview with The Independent newspaper, he said, “we can no longer offer some kinds of games experiences that couldn’t also easily be offered on a smartphone, so we need to differentiate and offer something exclusive.

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Following a turbulent year in which the company posted its first ever, full-year financial loss, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has admitted that smartphones and tablets have changed the environment in which the Japanese firm conducts its handheld business.

Last year, Iwata stated that there were “no casual correlations” between the growth of social and smartphone gaming and Nintendo’s recent lacklustre financial performance.

Speaking to The Independent newspaper, Iwata attributed the initial struggles of its 3DS hardware to the company’s own failure to release software for the handheld in a timely manner and added, “But obviously smartphones and tablets have changed the environment that we operate in and we can no longer offer some kinds of games experiences that couldn’t also easily be offered on a smartphone, so we need to differentiate and offer something exclusive.

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He went on to say, “I think if we can offer exclusive entertainment that cannot be replicated on other devices then we’ll have the chance to survive.
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Iwata also stated that the company would not be selling the 3DS XL console at a loss, as it was forced to do with the 3DS last year after slashing the price to stimulate interest, “we don’t have a huge profit margin on [3DS XL] we intend to sell it a profit.”

With regard to design choices and despite the Circle Pad Pro launching for for 3DS XL later this year, Iwata stated that there had be no plans to integrate a second analogue stick into the unit as it would have necessitated a reduction in the size of the battery or made the unit significantly bigger than it already is.

The Nintendo president’s final word was on digital distribution, on which he commented that although the medium will allow the company to distribute its content more efficiently while maintaining profitability, the firm has no intention of entirely cutting out the retail intermediaries.

“I think for a lot of consumers it’s still important that they can go to a store and in-store they have a presence of our products and this is where they can be informed and then purchase our products. For us it’s still quite important to have the traditional retailers as our partners and to see how we can work together with them and involve them in the distribution model – and also for digital products.
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