For years, Nintendo has held its ground as the premier name in handheld gaming.
iPhone 4 (Apple)But to the company's financial backers, it's time to wake up and smell the Apples.
Bloomberg reports that Nintendo's investors are so unhappy with the recent performance that they're demanding the company start creating games for smartphones and other devices.
It certainly shouldn't come as a shock. Just a few weeks ago, Nintendo slashed the price of their 3DS handheld by $80 after just four months on the market -- an unprecedented move by a company that has grown accustomed to immediate success in the portable game space. The situation fares little better on the once-mighty Wii, whose market dominance has been eroded by the double-shot of motion-sensing strides by Sony and Microsoft and a dearth of compelling software. And it's all being reflected in the company's ailing stock price, currently at a six-year low.
The problem, say financial experts, is that the company can't survive exclusively attaching itself to gaming platforms folks just aren't that interested in.
"Smartphones are the new battlefield for the gaming industry," Masamitsu Ohki , a fund manager at Tokyo-based Stats Investment Management, told Bloomberg. "Nintendo should try to either buy its way into this platform or develop something totally new."
To put things in perspective, Nintendo has sold about 4.5 million 3DS systems worldwide (under 1 million in the U.S.) since launching in late February. Not embarrassing numbers, but compared to Apple -- who moved over 35 million game-ready iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) last quarter -- it's a pittance.
Up until now, however, Nintendo has consistently stated that they've got no plans to make a move. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata blasted the new competition at the Game Developer's Conference in March, claiming that increased focused in low-cost development for smartphones and Facebook could literally threaten the industry as a whole, insisting that such platforms "have no motivation to maintain the high value of video game software."
It's clear, though, that Nintendo's shareholders don't share his feelings. When news broke that a Pokemon game was coming to the iPhone, Nintendo stock enjoyed a notable uptick. But when the company insisted their policy about not making iOS titles "hasn't changed and won't change," the stock promptly dipped back down.
It's a tricky spot for Nintendo. The company's iconic, exclusive franchises -- the ones smartphone gamers are itching to see on their devices -- are a huge part of its success, but simply opening up the floodgates and porting them over to another company's platform would mark a massive change in the way they've done business for the past 25 years, not to mention dilute the value of any upcoming hardware.
What do you think? Should Nintendo start supporting the smartphone market by releasing games for iOS and Android? Or should they keep those franchises exclusive to Nintendo systems? Ring in below!
-- Play Gems Twist on Yahoo! Games --