Nintendo on why bringing Mario to iPhones is problematic

Veteran producer Kensuke Tanabe believes translating the controls appropriately to mobile devices would be a "really, really difficult task."

Nintendo's long-standing unwillingness to release its tentpole franchises like Mario and Zelda on iPhones and Android devices is nothing new. But now a veteran producer for the company, Kensuke Tanabe, has spoken out to offer some additional insight as to why Nintendo is holding fast to this mindset, even as it faces increased scrutiny from investors.

"With games like Mario and Donkey Kong, the control input is such an important part of that; I think if you're trying to replicate that feeling of control that you have traditional to those games, translating those to a smart device, that's a just a really, really difficult task," Tanabe told GameSpot through a translator during a recent interview. "Of course I'm not ignoring the fact that the marketplace is flooded with these devices and that there are a lot of games created specifically for them. Personally, as I mentioned earlier, I don't have a curiosity of or feeling of needing to create or wanting to create games for those devices. I want Nintendo games to be played on Nintendo hardware."

Some believe that Nintendo's decision to keep its major franchises off smartphones and tablets is a silly one, claiming that the company is turning its back on easy money. But Nintendo does not see it that way. President Satoru Iwata contends that whatever short-term benefit Nintendo might get from releasing its games for mobile devices is not worth the risk of harming its longstanding policy of offering its franchises exclusively on Nintendo devices.

"I want Nintendo games to be played on Nintendo hardware" - Tanabe

For Donkey Kong and Metroid developer Retro Studios CEO Michael Kelbaugh, thinking about platforms is secondary to what the company is really after: making great games.

"We make games, and more importantly, we make Nintendo games. That's where our emphasis is and that's what we want to do. Hardware to us is kind of secondary," Kelbaugh told GameSpot. "We put everything we have into making great games and we'll make those on whatever hardware Nintendo supports."

Kelbaugh said he doesn't give much thought to the ongoing debate about whether or not Nintendo should make iOS and Android games. He has a job to do, and that's to create compelling content for gamers. The business decisions are up to Nintendo, he said.

"What we're focused on is just making a great game. Wherever it ends up, that's not our decision, so I think we need to concentrate on making great content and let Nintendo decide what box they want to put it in, how they want to package it," Kelbaugh said. " Watching this whole debate going on right now...I don't give it a whole lot of thought just because I'm concentrating on making a fun, great game and hardware's always kind of a revolving target I guess."

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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274 comments
Kyrylo
Kyrylo

> I don't have a curiosity of or feeling of needing to create or wanting to create games for those devices.

Good explanation why WiiU isn't worth it ;)

rey2
rey2

Okay this topic makes sense for Nintendo but i'm still not convinced with their region locking policy.

ganondorf77
ganondorf77

I play mario 64, 007, etc... in my htc one since 2011. It's almost the same as playing in original console. The only matter is L and R buttons. And despite that, it's very quick and responsive.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Why is it we only ask this of Nintendo?  Could it be that people want their games, but are selfish enough to not want their devices?  No one asks Sony why we're not seeing Killzone and Uncharted on phones...


End of the day, they're not going to go to phones because A) it would kill their wildly successful 3DS business, and B) people would start harassing them to put their home games on PS4/Xbone.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

Create Android and iOS controllers, made by Nintendo. Then program the games to require the controllers for Nintendo games they offer for each device. In this way Nintendo doesn't need to control the hardware or store front, but they can control the input methods and sell the input hardware to go with get games they sell.

This limits them to people who want to buy controllers, but if anybody could convince people to do so and be successful at it, it would be Nintendo.

sherberttcat
sherberttcat

Translation: As Japanese developers, we have trouble adapting! What worked in 1993, still works today, as far as we can tell.

nicoloplay
nicoloplay

I guess everything is possible now as we have seen improvements when it comes to games in Android and iOs. Before, you can't play games like Zombies or NBA (sorry off topic) in cellphones but surprisingly, you can now. So Nintendo, it won't affect your credibility if you could make it happen for iPhones. As I am a user of iPhone and 3Ds too, that will really be an awesome job!


- Sorry, just want to say my thoughts out loud! :)

Vodoo
Vodoo

Nintendo could just put NES & Super NES games on smart devices and they'd make a killing. They can keep their new stuff for their own hardware. They're just being stubborn. They see these devices as competition, a reason why they're selling less & less hardware. They don't want to help smart devices make dedicated gaming hardware become even more irrelevant that much faster. Because having their games on those devices will just further cement in customers minds that they don't need a standalone gaming device when smartphones & tablets are universal. But the money they would make would skyrocket for both the short AND long term.

chev9324
chev9324

@Vodoo Aren't you the same troll that said that the Xbone and PS4 already outsold the Wii U when those two consoles barely launched? Yeah, you defiantly have no creditable. 

Serbine
Serbine

@Vodoo Or maybe you too stubborn to buy one of Nintendo system for their games?

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

Sure! What about just adding cell phone capacities to the 3DS? Nothing is as easy as it sounds, even if it sounds cool.

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

So sell it with a bluetooth controller pad and REQUIRE the controller for it to run. Download-only option for sequels. Publish minimum iPhone & Android system specs.  'nuff said.

Juan1988
Juan1988

I gotta admit... I always said Nintendo should port or build from the ground up new games for smartphones and tablets since it's an interesting market filled with new and old gamers.

Thanks to their new "free Pokemon on march" deal I just bought a 3DS, now I'm happy if they decide to never publish a game on smartphones or tablets since I have access to them.

So I suppose my decisions are based on selfishness, what I'm curious about is if people pro-mobiles don't have a 3DS and the people against it all have a 3DS, that should explain everything.

meharu
meharu

"What we're focused on is just making a great game.

That  is why I love Nintendo. The reason why it is not doing good sales-wise is because casual gamers are leaning more towards mobile games.

shipster30
shipster30

Make more old school mario games available for mobile. Would it be that difficult to take a mobile phone and be able to go left,right,up,down. In mario, you jump and hit your head on some coins and squish goombas.  That doesn't seem like a hard thing to accomplish.

thegroveman
thegroveman

So don't translate the controls!  You're a hardware company, Nintendo.  Make a retro-themed controller/case for iOS/Android where you can connect your device or pair via Bluetooth, and proceed to start printing money.

gatozombii
gatozombii


Why is there no Titanfall info in this article? 

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Most iOS and android games are worthless. Games on phones just is not the best place for serious gaming. That is why throw a way games like Angry birds, Candy Crush and Flappy bird. Which was actually thrown away by it's own creator.


Nintendo just has to make an up to date proper console next round and they will be fine.

electrichobo99
electrichobo99

I hate most iOS games as much as the next guy, but I don't think Nintendo should sell their figurative anus to a trendy, horny Apple john. If they're gonna do that, they might as well develop for other consoles and go Sega status, sacrificing their principles for some coin destined for Developer Pimps, know what I'm sayin', lol

Rusmurf
Rusmurf

They made a bad decision, and now just as many kids play Angry Birds as play Mario.

CriticalCritic
CriticalCritic

It's too bad there's already free emulators on the app store, so people can play them regardless. I think it's a good idea for them to avoid tablet/phone ports, but being shit devs incapable of making good touch controls isn't a good reason. Games like League of Evil get 2D platforming to a science. At the very least, there's a plethora of gamepad peripherals on the market.

itmustbepaul
itmustbepaul

@CriticalCritic  And Ravenous Games will gladly put out Leageu of Evil and Random Heroes for $.99 or as a free to play game while Nintendo will have to charge a premium for their premium properties. Which do you think will sell more?

By the way, Ravenous failed with Beatdown, so they aren't guys that have the ambrosia when it comes to mobile controls. Additionally, they've basically filled their portfolio with several copies of only 2 games. How many more runners and platformers can they make? Compare this to Nintendo, who's portfolio spans dozens of game types.

MJ-X
MJ-X

Easy fix Nintendo, why don't you try releasing a phone + 3ds device? its not like you are making much out of anything nowadays anyway. so might as well go down even more. Controls have nothing to do with it BTW as both android and iOS support controller APIs.

itmustbepaul
itmustbepaul

@MJ-X  Oh stop it. Who is going to buy one of those $50-$100 controllers to play mobile games, let alone put that controller in their pocket to play games on the go? How would a Nintendo phone compete with Apple and Samsung, who both already have an infrastructure with Apple's own store and Android, both have more resources than Nintendo, and both are already well established in the mobile market?

Also, last I checked, the 3DS was the #1-selling piece of hardware of 2013 in the US and globally.

jyml8582
jyml8582

The only way to play Nintendo games on an iPhone is in a parallel universe, where the iPhone was introduced by Nintendo with built in Zelda and Super Mario games.

Leria
Leria

He is actually right here. In order to properly emulate the control schemes for older and current generation Nintendo games, you REALLY need a controller or psuedo-controller like the Wiimote.

If Apple makes an external controller that can 'mold' to the iPhone and hook into a port or connect via Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, THEN we might have something to talk about.

JachAnen
JachAnen

BS response. Nintendo just doesn't like to cooperate or Mario and Zelda would have been on other consoles than theirs.

GhostHawk196
GhostHawk196

Why are they even considering porting games to iOS devices? Playing on a touchscreen is abysmal at best hence why I don't have a single game installed on my Sony Xperia Z1, thats what the VITA is for... 

fillup0
fillup0

@GhostHawk196  They were considering usuing mobile as an advertising space and everyone went "OH NINTENDO IS FAILING AND GOING MOBILE?!" despite the fact that the 3DS is keeping them afloat and they've been through worse failures.

flashn00b
flashn00b

If Nintendo falls, the most likely scenario is that they simply go all-in on handhelds, and perhaps maybe also look into making their own mobile hardware with the required control scheme for their handheld games.


I'm still under the belief that the only reason why carrying around two devices isn't outdated yet is because we've yet to see a phone that ACTUALLY works as your handheld game device.

Leria
Leria

@annaisha


Hit the nail on the head. The Wii U is looking like another Nintendo 64 (that console did not sell well in the real world either) but it most likely will not be a total failure. Nintendo will learn from this mistake and realize that releasing a console that does not meet (at least) the current generation of competitors on hardware power is a horrible idea.

annaisha
annaisha

@flashn00b  Nintendo can't "fall". They are sitting on so much money that they'd need to fail for 20 consecutive years until they'd run out of money.

croxus
croxus

WOW!!! Eddy with a non titanfall article???

XxParasite
XxParasite

...The hell?  What even is this?  "Nintendo not willing to make tiny, cheapass games for someone else's hardware."

Yes, and fish have gills.  Why is this news?

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

People seem to forget that Nintendo owns a Handheld legacy.


Phones isnt gonna do anything for them except Advertisement, which Nintendo needs to take advantage of, shoving their series faces isnt going to work, Share holders just hear whats popular and just blabs it to Nintendo when they are just brainless, which is why Nintendo is buying their own Shares.


Nintendo's approach to Mobile needs to be business wise, because otherwise a mobile fad can only stay noticable for so long, meanwhile Mario Kart 7 on 3DS is STILL selling

rushad_patel
rushad_patel

@hotdiddykong Yes Nintendo were the pioneers of the handhelds but, handhelds evolved into phones, but Nintendo got a bit stuck after the DS. They need to blend the handheld devices and Phones, as people want to reduce the multiple gadgets  they carry.

The handheld market is still large but is shrinking as better and better games are readily available on phones. We are hoping to see a complete merger of the two businesses in the future, Nintendo should be the front runner there.

Otherwise we may see another episode of giants like Nokia and Kodak falling.

n0xinab0x
n0xinab0x

@rushad_patel  Funny, the majority of people I see using phones are just texting or watching videos. I rarely ever see anyone actually talking on their phones, I do however see a lot of people walking into poles more often.

rushad_patel
rushad_patel

Only way out, bring out a Nintendo Smart phone !!

Leria
Leria

@rushad_patel  


Actually, they could probably add that functionality to the Nintendo 3DS and then just release the 3DS as an 'all-in-one' phone/game handheld/etc.

Nintendo would kill the Android competitors if they did that.

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

Here is an idea Nintendo...

MS and Sony both make phones... why can't you???

Make a phone compatible with Wii Motes and what not.

Put in your Nintendo Market, Boom...

Ide buy one... imagine legitimately playing Old NES and 64 games with a real Nintendo controller, on a portable screen... that you can still use as a smartphone... hmm Portable Wii U?

NintenPhone anyone???

NintenPhone 64???

NintenPhone U ???

gamephreak5
gamephreak5

@TheExxorcist  Both Sony's and M$'s phones failed, and Nintendo's hand at making a phone would fail as well. That's just a horrible stupid idea. Nintendo doesn't need to make phones, they need to make games.

Leria
Leria

@IanNottinghamX


They have a game lineup or did.... the problem is that numerous of their partners are backtracking and saying "So sorries.... we will not make games for the Wii U!"

Nintendo should think about suing those companies, I am sure that they signed agreements that they would have to make at least one game for the Wii U.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

@TheExxorcist Bad idea...heres a common sense idea...when they make consoles they need to have a fucking game lineup for them... its really simple

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

Touch screen is for simple games. Unless the phone has buttons and a D pad it'd be impossible to play.

edussz
edussz

I think Nintendo would become Sega if they released their games in other consoles.
But that is not a good excuse... I play Mario 64 on a nexus tablet just fine, controller wise...

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

@edussz Third party is simply out of the question its a stupid idea I hear so often. Sega and Nintendo are different companies. Sega has been primarily software with partial hardware which is why they could do it. Nintendo is mostly Nintendo Experiences on Nintendo hardware. If the hardware wasnt in the picture then there would be no point in even being in the industry of video games anymore..at that point they could just do workout machines or slotmachines which wouldnt be a stretch.  All Nintendo needs to do is what they do best and thats make great games.

b1gt0ne
b1gt0ne

Nintendo……..DO NOT SELLOUT!!