The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the first of five total mobile games for Nintendo will be announced tomorrow. The identity of the franchise associated with this mobile game remains unknown, but Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime revealed earlier this year that longtime Mario Kart producer Hideki Konno is in charge of mobile development.
Nintendo first announced that they would be going mobile back in March, reversing their earlier policy of ignoring mobile devices in favor of the Nintendo 3DS. Since then, however, they've remained largely silent on the subject of mobile development, leaving gamers and the media to speculate on how they will tackle the platform's swollen market.
Whatever form their mobile games ultimately take, they will come in a period of intense change of Nintendo as they recover from the passing of president Satoru Iwata and continue to prepare their next-generation console, the NX, which could be launching as soon as 2016.
Nintendo's Move Into Mobile
At this point mobile has grown to the point that even Nintendo can no longer ignore it. The only question, ultimately, is what form a Nintendo mobile game will take. We'll have a better idea tomorrow, but you can bet that it won't be a free-to-play microtransaction-driven game.
As Jeremy wrote back in March, "Nintendo's executives seem keenly aware that the company's greatest form of currency is the reputation and quality of its properties; Mario and Link and Samus have premium status among game franchises, because Nintendo vets their appearances scrupulously. They only appear in good games (yes, yes, get your snarky Other M comments out of the way now), only appear on good products, and generally avoid the pitfalls common to other franchise properties. If Nintendo cashes in on its good name in the short term, what does it have for the long term?"
But as he also pointed out, Nintendo's investors have long since become impatient with the company's traditional approach. With the passing of Satoru Iwata back in July, Nintendo's new president is Tatsumi Kimishima - a 65-year-old former banker who will chart the course for the company in the years to come. Kimishima is still something of a cipher to gamers, having worked primarily on the business side of the company. But those who are worried about a more cynical approach by Nintendo should take comfort in the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto will continue to wield considerable influence as the company's Creative Fellow.
In any case, keep an eye on the news tomorrow. What Nintendo reveals will say a lot about their approach to mobile, and the course they will ultimately take into the future.