Nintendo: Mario Toothbrushes and Other Licensing Deals Key to Growing Company

"The proportion of young consumers who are first experiencing games on our systems has been falling."


Speaking during a recent earnings briefing, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima explained that, as a result of changes in the gaming landscape, fewer and fewer young people are finding out about Nintendo games Instead, they're discovering Nintendo and its characters through things like officially licensed Mario toothbrushes. Expect these kinds of licensing deals to continue and possibly increase, Kimishima said.

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"Due to changes in our industry, the proportion of young consumers who are first experiencing games on our systems has been falling," he explained. "We want to have everyone become familiar with our IP by reaching as many people as possible from an early age within their daily lives. Our long-term strategy is to spark our consumers' interest in playing Nintendo game systems and encouraging continued growth of our games business."

Kimishima specifically cited the Mario toothbrushes sold in America as an example of Nintendo's existing efforts in this space. He also called out Nintendo's partnership with Converse for its line of Mario shoes.

Looking to the future, Nintendo has licensed its characters for a new Universal theme park. As Nintendo thinks about itself more broadly as an entertainment company, these kinds of licensing arrangements will be important if Nintendo is to grow.

"Our policy and the focus of our current activities is to create more chances for our consumers to experience the charm of Nintendo IP, not just on our dedicated video game systems, but outside of game software as well," he explained.

While it was not mentioned in the earnings briefing, Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto said in 2015 that the company is looking at bringing its characters and franchises to the big-screen.

"As we look more broadly at what is Nintendo's role as an entertainment company, we're starting to think more and more about how movies can fit in with that," he said. "And we'll potentially be looking at things like movies in the future."

The film business isn't entirely alien to Nintendo, as the company brought Mario the big-screen in 1993 with the poorly received Super Mario Bros. live-action movie. Most recently, Nintendo's Donkey Kong appeared in last year's Adam Sandler movie, Pixels. Before that, leaked emails revealed that Sony Pictures was in deep negotiations with Nintendo to acquire the film rights to make an animated Mario movie.

In addition, there was a report of Nintendo producing a Legend of Zelda TV show for Netflix ("Game of Thrones for a family audience"), though Nintendo has since distanced itself from that speculation.

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