Nintendo's hardware manufacturing days are numbered, according to industry veteran Bing Gordon. The former Electronic Arts chief operating officer told GamesIndustry International in an interview published today that Nintendo may follow Sega in exiting the hardware business.
"I think Nintendo's already on track to become primarily a software company," Gordon said, when asked about the challenges the Wii U faces at launch this holiday season.
Gordon compared Nintendo to Sega, a company that once had a foothold in the hardware market, but ultimately shifted to developing software exclusively. He said Nintendo will remain viable as a hardware manufacturer so long as its creative talent--specifically Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto--continues to come to work.
"We saw that with Sega back in the day; Sega made some missteps and became primarily a software company. Nintendo hasn't really made missteps, Nintendo probably has better creative talent and better leadership now than Sega did," Bing said. "It's got the most robust business model, the best creative talent; Miyamoto's still the best in the business. So far, when Miyamoto makes a perfect game, in his career he makes games worth $200--it's worth buying a system for."
Speaking about Nintendo's DS line of portable hardware, Gordon said Nintendo faces a multitude of competitors, and offering its games on smartphones and other mobile devices may be the way to go.
"I think the handheld is going to be under a lot of pressure," he said. "I can imagine a day when Nintendo wonders--and maybe it's generational change--when Nintendo wonders if they ought to take some of their best games and make them apps."
Nintendo has loudly declared it has no intention of entering the smartphone business, despite acknowledging that smartphones and tablets have undoubtedly changed the mobile market in which its DS line operates.