Was Satoru Iwata right about mobile gaming all these years later?

After the release of 2 recent Mario spin-off mobile games with Dr. Mario World and Mario Kart Tour showcasing the most aggressive monetization schemes seen yet for Nintendo's mobile division, I can't help but think back to a moment in time where Iwata said something very interesting:

"If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo." - In regards to Nintendo entering the mobile market. If you need a refresher, here is an article from 2011, around the time of the Nintendo 3DS struggling and getting a price cut:


While I am aware that he eventually caved in near the mid 2010s and even jumpstarted some things like Miitomo, I feel like he was pushed into this position out of mounting pressure due to his failing health. Even Super Mario Run felt like an earnest attempt to at least try mobile the Nintendo way, a one-time purchase piece of software.

But all that has changed recently. Dr. Mario World and Mario Kart Tour now utilizes gacha mechanics and passes, with very aggressive RNG and monetization. This could be a response to Super Mario Run not tantalizing enough people, but the drastic shift in mobile strategy has left the integrity of these games in question. One could argue that their initial goal was to use mobile as a platform to entice prospective customers to their main console games, but if these mobile games are successful and do better numbers saleswise than the console games, I fail to see why any businessman or shareholder would not resist the temptation to double down on mobile instead.

Sure, they LOOK like Nintendo's usual quality level, with great fun new features (That, in my opinion, are much more desired to be implemented in future console entries), and the same level of polish and sheen, but is the gameplay at its core really that good, having been gimped with phone controls? Is it good enough to keep players engaged for more than a month? Furthermore, with the new microtransactions effectively walling huge swathes of content... Can we really say with certainty that these games really feel like "Nintendo"?

Another thing compounding this dilemma is what our lovely new president Shuntaro Furukawa bemused earlier this year in January. That he forsees a future in which Nintendo no longer makes consoles, and that he wishes to focus more on mobile. He even states that he desires a "continous stream of revenue" from this front. Well it would appear half of his wishes have come to fruition.

So I must ask all of you, was our former Nintendo president right? Was Satoru Iwata right about Nintendo ceasing to be Nintendo if they ever joined in on mobile game development? Perhaps I may be preaching to the choir, as I would expect this site to primarily consist of hardcore gamers who harbor disdain for mobile gaming, but I feel as if though this topic warrants serious consideration, as it poses many ramifications for the future trajectory of this company, given all that has happened thus far.

Nintendo will always be Nintendo no matter what it does. Unless the company decides to change its name.

He clearly meant they no longer would carry the spirit of the company.

Did Nintendo lose their spirit when they shifted their focus away from playing cards? From Love Hotels and novelty toys? How about when they left Arcade gaming behind?

I'd argue Nintendo did neither lose nor keep their "spirit" - they evolve. They thing is - I really, really don't like the kind of evolution that is happening right now. But I can totally imagine a future where we'll say "remember when they made video games decades ago?" - just like we now talk about the card games and toys from a distant past.

Wed Jan 01 20 01:23pm
Rating: 1

Actually, what I like about this Mobile endeavor from Nintendo is that it proved the game journalists, analysts and hardcore gamers wrong.

They kept saying that Nintendo should stop making console games and move to mobile and they will be millionaires. Well, 3 years and their mobile games are doing fine but their console business is doing great,

t's obvious that the Industry wants Nintendo to be gone and thought that Nintendo will focus solely in mobile gaming. Instead, Nintendo is using the mobile games as a way to attract non-nintendo console gamers and is working.

Once again Nintendo proved the Game Industry wrong.

Honestly, after spending some time with the xcloud beta and stadia, I think the future of gaming lies in our phones. I personally would like to see Nintendo work to create a standardized controller for mobile devices and begin to move some of their back catalog to mobile platforms.

Nintendo moving heavily on mobile could actually be a pretty cool thing if it was done right; however, done poorly, it will definitely deteriorate the name of the company.


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