Nintendo is offering conversion software to a number of developers to try to stimulate ports of smartphone games to its struggling Wii U video game console, according to a report by Japan Times.
The publication has cited anonymous company sources who say that the Nintendo is looking to “modify” its current hardware offerings in order to offer popular smartphone apps to consumers.
On the Nintendo Wii U, this is a bold but sensible move. The GamePad controller, which offers a 6.2-inch touchscreen display alongside a traditional button configuration, would be a perfect fit for many titles offered on Android and iOS.
Nintendo has also been keen to promote the eShop, its online marketplace for purchasing full retail games, exclusive downloadable titles and multimedia apps, such as Wii Street U.
The company faces problems on both fronts, however. The GamePad controller doesn’t support multi-touch, which would rule out a number of very successful smartphone games including Cut the Rope.
The eShop is also pretty barren at the moment. Offering smartphone apps goes against Nintendo’s ethos of offering only the best titles that fit its family orientated values and also reach an expected level of quality.
The video game giant is no doubt looking for the same success enjoyed by the App Store and Play Store, but unless it’s prepared to offer a wealth of sub-par experiences – thereby letting the breakout successes ‘bubble’ to the top – the eShop will never enjoy the same sort of app discovery and revenue opportunities.
Japan Times reports that Nintendo is focusing on smartphone app conversions to try to accelerate sales of its Wii U console specifically. That makes sense, given its dwindling sales numbers and lack of first or third-party software, but questions still remain over its perceived value.
If players already own a smartphone and can access these titles from other platforms, why buy and download them again for another system?
Ouya is already blazing this trail with its inexpensive Android-based video console, which was funded through Kickstarter and recently started shipping to backers. Initial reviews have been mixed, but the company ensures that the public release will rectify many of these issues. We’ll have to wait and see.
If Nintendo is trying to court smartphone developers to the Wii U system, it needs to approach any resulting ports as the start of a long-term investment. Yet another conversion of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies is unlikely to sell another million Wii U units.
If the video game giant can find a way of persuading high-profile and indie smartphone developers alike to develop for Wii U specifically, however, the console could be given a much-needed shot in the arm.