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

Thursday, 12th 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.


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.


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.

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.



  1. KAP

    My opinion probably wont be agreeable to the masses but I think the smartphone market has changed/changing the console market for the the better. No longer should Nintendo profit with there half arsed ways.
    It’s time for all three giants to adapt and stop milking the consumer the way they have been all this time.

    Bollox to that.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. OlderGamer

    I tend to mostly agree Kap. There are a lot of cheaper gaming alternatives out there. And I think that there is only so much room for the really huge big budget top dollar games.

    The question is, when threatend, will console platforms holders lossen up or clamp down. I hope lossen up, with the economy buying 60usd plus DLC for games is getting tougher.

    I am really leaning towards(and I can’t believe I am saying this) buying a handheld for my console of choice next gen. And sticking with my PC. I don’t think I ever skipped new hardware, ever…well I didn’t get the 3DO or Phillips CDi at launch. I have a lot fo thinking to do.

    Hoping the price points of next gen are affordable, worried they won’t be.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SuperGuyverUSA

    I agree yet disagree with KAP on this one. Yeah, Nintendo does profit for things that could be way better, but I have never been disappointed in a Legend of Zelda or a Mario game. I’m a huge Sony fan and own all the PlayStation systems (except for the ps1) and I have always enjoyed the experiances. While playing on a phone/tablet, I’ve never played longer than 15 minutes by the hour or so. For Uncharted 3 and Final Fantasy XIII,I tossed in about 3 or so hours a day.

    So here is where I think consoles and handhelds have over phones and tablets, the experiance. Yeah, Angry Birds (and among other titles) is rather fun when you get the hang of it, but I’m talking about ways to play the game. Let’s take the Vita for an example, having a back touch, six-axis motion, and online gameplay with things like Resistance, it all adds up for something that you can’t do on a phone or tablet. The Wii U kinda does that too with the whole “if someone wants to watch tv but I’m playing a game, I’ll change it over to my controller” thing. I have no idea what Sony will be doing, but I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be something to bring consoles out of this madness. But that’s just my opinion. :)

    #3 2 years ago
  4. fearmonkey

    I don’t have a 3DS, so I apologize if what I am saying is stupid.

    Nintendo (or the Vita) needs the equivalent of the App store, where you can make cheap games, but have access to those controls. That would set them apart. They can keep being Nintendo and release expensive first party games, but to survive long term this what they need to do.

    If I could buy a handheld that had the games and prices of the app store with the controls of a typical hand held, I would buy it. I have no interest in buying an expensive handheld so I can buy expensive games when I prefer PC and console gaming as my main gaming. Mobile gaming is more of a diversion for me, not a replacement for consoles or PC.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. SuperGuyverUSA

    @4 I believe the Vita is doing that. I don’t have a 3DS either, but I might in the future. I bought a game the other day for about $1.99, so I know that Sony will be putting cheaper games on their systems. But all in all, I agree with your statement.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Gheritt White

    Had a go on a Nintendo 3DS XL last night – all I can say is that I can’t wait to get one of my very own!

    #6 2 years ago

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