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Mario Kart 8 coming in May and Nintendo reveals 2014 strategy

The Wii U won't get a price cut, the GamePad is here to stay, and Nintendo is working on non-wearable tech to improve your quality of life.

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Earlier today, several Nintendo executives took voluntary pay cuts including CEO Satoru Iwata taking a 50% reduction, but that was just preparation for the company's overarching 2014 plans. To further address the company’s financials and future, Nintendo held a strategy briefing today in Osaka.

Here’s the short version:

  • Mario Kart 8 is coming in May
  • Price cut on Wii U isn’t an option.
  • Nintendo is focusing on the GamePad – it’s not going to be removed from the Wii U.
  • Nintendo will license its characters to other companies (but their franchises are still not coming to non-Nintendo platforms)
  • The Nintendo Network ID will expand to smartphones, but Nintendo games aren’t going mobile
  • Nintendo DS virtual console will be coming to Wii U
  • Non-wearable health monitoring systems are in the works to improve quality of life.

Here’s the more in-depth version.

From a liveblog of the meeting on the Wall Street Journal, Iwata said “he’s not pessimistic about the game console outlook. And there is no change to game console being the center of its strategy. He insists the company will not be abandoning its hardware business.”

Research analyst David Gibson also shared updates from the meeting via Twitter. He wrote that Nintendo will put an increased focus on the Wii U GamePad. Gibson wrote, “GamePad profile to be increased…fast start up of Gamepad designed so can play without TV quickly.” He also wrote that consumers don’t understand the GamePad; they still think of it as a Wii peripheral. However, a price cut is not an option.”

Mario Kart 8 will be releasing in May, but according to the WSJ, Iwata said, “This won’t be just a one-off boost in momentum.” This was not further clarified.

Regarding smartphones and tablets, Gibson wrote, “It doesn't make sense for us not to do business in smart devices, want to establish connection to users to drive to own devices.” And the WSJ clarifies, “Mr. Iwata says Nintendo will 'actively' use smart devices to 'make connections with customers.' That is, they’ll use smart devices as a catalyst to encourage customers to use its Nintendo platforms. Short answer, he’s not going to release Nintendo’s titles on other platforms.”

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According to Gibson, Nintendo is looking expand the Nintendo Network ID to smart devices, not to make money, but to communicate with users.

According to this summary of the presentation, the Nintendo DS Virtual Console will also come to the Wii U.

However, Nintendo is open to licensing their characters to other partners. This isn’t unprecedented, but may show a stronger push toward that idea; after all, Sega develops the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series, and Link is going to be in an upcoming Dynasty Warriors cross-over game Hyrule Warriors.

Going forward, Nintendo is also going to focus on players’ health and quality of life. The WSJ write, “Nintendo is trying out something completely new: non-wearables to monitor your health.” More details about what non-wearable are will come later in the year.

In response to the announcements, the WSJ writes," The ire of investors may be growing. Nintendo’s stock is now off 4%, worse than a 3.2% fall in the benchmark Nikkei Stock Average."

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