Nintendo might build hardware controllers for iPhone and iPad

Posted:
in iPhone
After launching its first iOS app, Japanese gaming giant Nintendo is looking to further diversify beyond consoles and first-party handhelds with a potential move into mobile hardware, specifically a controller add-on for smartphones and tablets.




Nintendo's general manager of entertainment planning and development, Shinya Takahashi, during an annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday hinted that a mobile accessory product might be in the offing as the company explores new business models, reports Polygon.

"Physical controllers for smart device applications are available in the market and it is possible that we may also develop something new by ourselves," Takahashi said. "I believe Nintendo's way of thinking is to look at whether action games are really not impossible (without a physical controller for smart device applications) to create and how we can make it happen to create such a game."

The initiative is one of many experimental projects underway at Nintendo. Following decades of success built around a largely closed ecosystem of consoles and handheld gaming platforms, the company is looking to pivot toward the booming mobile device market. As part of the shift, Nintendo last year announced plans to develop original smartphone games through a partnership with app maker DeNA.

Miitomo was the first of Nintendo's exploratory mobile apps to land on iOS, with a launch in Japan followed by U.S. release in March. Dubbed a "social experience" game, the app is best described as a hybrid messaging platform with hooks into Facebook and Twitter. Nintendo plans to add popular franchises Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing to its stable of apps this fall.

Exactly what type of controller Nintendo looks to build is unclear, though the company will face stiff competition from accessory makers like Gamevice and Steel Series, whose Nimbus controller is AppleInsider's top pick for Apple TV and iPad.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member
    About damn time Nintendo! 
    repressthisSpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 14
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 433member

    Well unless they release some of their bigger franchises on mobile platforms I'm not sure how desirable a Nintendo game controller would be. If they made games like Zelda and Mario available on mobile but required that you purchase a Nintendo branded controller to get the full experience I could see it having success. And I can see them potentially doing something like that to protect their traditionally closed ecosystem.

    Personally though I would just love to be able to purchase some of my favourite classic NES games from the App store and play them in the same way I can for titles from Sega.

    icoco3patchythepiraterepressthisTurboPGT
  • Reply 3 of 14
    I love these kind of stories. They might. But, then...they might not. 
  • Reply 4 of 14
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    I love Apple fans going after Nintendo for a closed ecosystem. The hypocracy is hilarious. 
    edited July 2016 calilord amhranrepressthisdasanman69moreck
  • Reply 5 of 14
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 433member
    I love Apple fans going after Nintendo for a closed ecosystem. The hypocracy is hilarious. 


    Are you implying I was going after them for their closed ecosystem? I speculated on what they might do to protect it but never complained about the fact they are protecting their ecosystem.

    Do I think it would be great it they just released their games for iOS in the way Sega has?: Sure. But Sega no longer manufacture their own consoles so releasing mobile games is a great way for them to continue to make an income from their IP without risk to an associated hardware business.

    Do I think it's the right choice for Nintendo to make?: That's up to Nintendo to decide. It would have positives and negatives. If they started releasing games from franchises like Mario and Zelda though it would be a hard sell to convince consumers to purchase handheld game devicess and maybe even make the next Nintendo console far less desirable, especially if their iOS titles were playable on the AppleTV.

    So even though I highly doubt Nintendo will be releasing any of their big name franchises for iOS anytime soon (and I don't blame them if they choose not to) it doesn't mean I wouldn't like them to as I would be more than willing to purchase them.

    indyfxrepressthismoreck
  • Reply 6 of 14
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Nintendo, one of the most innovative companies in the world with the most stupid marketing department.

    From iPhone to the Apple TV Remote, there's Nintendo inspiration.

    Apple and Nintendo would be a marriage made in heaven.
    lolliverrepressthismoreck
  • Reply 7 of 14
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    I hope this is true! I've been saying for a long time that Nintendo should do this. It's a smart way to keep their brand relevant. They could release their old-school "Virtual Console" games on iOS, but make it so they only work with their controllers. Some people might balk at this, but the fact is that foisting controller-based games onto a touch interface is terrible. Since Nintendo values the customer experience as highly as Apple, forcing people to use their  controllers will ensure a consistently solid playing experience.
    lolliverrepressthis
  • Reply 8 of 14
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    This is the best rumor that I've read here in a long time, no joke! I guess that shows how much other interesting Apple news has been happening lately. 

    It would be fucking fantastic if Nintendo built some sort of controller for Apple devices!
    repressthis
  • Reply 9 of 14
    moreck said:
    I hope this is true! I've been saying for a long time that Nintendo should do this. It's a smart way to keep their brand relevant. They could release their old-school "Virtual Console" games on iOS, but make it so they only work with their controllers. Some people might balk at this, but the fact is that foisting controller-based games onto a touch interface is terrible. Since Nintendo values the customer experience as highly as Apple, forcing people to use their controllers will ensure a consistently solid playing experience.
    I don't think that this will happen. Apple has very strict guidelines when it comes to controllers. First, the game must be able to operate without a controller. Secondly, the controller has to adhere to layouts for buttons and control sticks. Those two things may make Nintendo shy away from this, which is why I don't think this rumor will pan out.
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 14
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    cali said:
    Nintendo, one of the most innovative companies in the world with the most stupid marketing department.

    From iPhone to the Apple TV Remote, there's Nintendo inspiration.

    Apple and Nintendo would be a marriage made in heaven.
    I couldn't agree more!
  • Reply 11 of 14
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,672moderator
    moreck said:
    I hope this is true! I've been saying for a long time that Nintendo should do this. It's a smart way to keep their brand relevant. They could release their old-school "Virtual Console" games on iOS, but make it so they only work with their controllers. Some people might balk at this, but the fact is that foisting controller-based games onto a touch interface is terrible. Since Nintendo values the customer experience as highly as Apple, forcing people to use their controllers will ensure a consistently solid playing experience.
    I don't think that this will happen. Apple has very strict guidelines when it comes to controllers. First, the game must be able to operate without a controller. Secondly, the controller has to adhere to layouts for buttons and control sticks. Those two things may make Nintendo shy away from this, which is why I don't think this rumor will pan out.
    Nintendo recently filed for some controller patents:

    http://www.gamespot.com/articles/nintendo-files-new-patent-for-a-handheld-device-bu/1100-6441566/
    http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2015/12/10/is-this-the-nintendo-nx-controller.aspx/
    http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/nintendo-patents-crazy-controller-idea-26-04-2016/






    People made mockups of the latter one:



    The top one is most likely as it's pretty much the base of the DS/3DS. The main difference is that the display part can be removed, which would be needed in order to use a separate add-on with dual thumbsticks for action games. If it was to be a universal controller then it would have to comply with Apple's MFi controller spec but that should be easy enough to do.

    The removable display shows they are intending to allow for games to work both with touch and physical controllers. They said that requiring physical controls would limit their audience. It's important to keep in mind that Nintendo is treating the smartphone like a mobile console like the DS/3DS and not like the Wii/GameCube/SNES so is more likely to get games like the following:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nintendo_3DS_games

    Their first app was Miitomo, second was Pokemon Go. Upcoming ones are rumored to be based on Animal Crossing and Fire Emblems. These are some of their best-selling 3DS titles and suitable for a touch display:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_Nintendo_3DS_video_games

    The 3DS has Donkey Kong but the problem with games like that on smartphones is they are harder to make free-to-play. They currently sell for ~$20 on 3DS. They could do a mixture like $10 up-front with some IAPs for extra levels and characters that aren't necessary for completing the game.



    Mario Kart could get IAPs for vehicle upgrades, weapons. Games like Pokemon are easier to put IAPs in:

    http://kotaku.com/here-are-pokemon-gos-microtransactions-1783182493

    It looks like the NX launching in March 2017 will be much like the Wii U with a bundled touch controller. They'd be able to launch with AMD's latest hardware at $299. You can get smartphones now that are faster than the 3DS for well under $100:

    https://www.amazon.com/Unlocked-Cellphone-Quadband-JUNING-Smartphones/dp/B01GER84FK

    Right now a Wii U is $299 and 3DS is $199. The controller they bundle with the NX can work as a 3DS replacement so they'd merge their mobile and TV console audience together. They can still sell the mobile part separately but they wouldn't have to initially, they can just sell multiple controllers to someone with the bundle. Selling them together would boost TV unit sales and is cheaper for people who typically buy both. They have nearly 60 million 3DS users:

    https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/sales/hard_soft/index.html

    Smartphones with some physical add-on would just be interchangeable with the bundled NX controller. A Nintendo account system would be a big plus because they'd be able to let players buy/earn Nintendo coins on smartphones with IAPs and use them in all their games on any platform.

    This hardware setup would potentially allow people to avoid Nintendo hardware altogether (which is a large part of their revenue) but with an iPhone accessory, they can make a decent profit margin on that. The 3DS only broke even after 19 million units. If the 40 million units after that made an average 25% margin, they'd make $2.9b. They aim to target 100 million smartphone users (there are over 2 billion so it's a realistic target, Candy Crush devs have managed to get over 500 million players):

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2016-02-03-my-nintendo-program-aims-for-100-million-members

    If they get 50 million people to buy accessories with $50 profit, that's $2.5b. This happens over a period of a few years. They have been making 5 Nintendo software sales per hardware sale. They could do the same on mobile and reach a larger volume of people. They are approaching the mobile space slowly and there probably won't be much significant happening until early next year when they reveal their plans for the NX.
  • Reply 12 of 14
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member
    lolliver said:

    Well unless they release some of their bigger franchises on mobile platforms I'm not sure how desirable a Nintendo game controller would be. 

    +100000

    It begins and ends with this. If they are considering a controller, it has to be because their A-list titles are in the works for iOS.

    One thing Nintendo will never do is ship Mario Bros. with touch controls. It simply won't work. People have tried for years with emulators and the experience is just shit.

    But, as far as I know, right now it is not permissible to sell an App on the App Store that requires a controller (unlike tvOS, where that is actually allowed).

    Too little too late for me as far as I'm concerned. This shit should have been on AppleTV from the start. I've already sideloaded all the NES and SNES games I could ever want onto my AppleTV. I would have paid A LOT for those games to run natively. Missed opportunity Nintendo.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member

    moreck said:
    I hope this is true! I've been saying for a long time that Nintendo should do this. It's a smart way to keep their brand relevant. They could release their old-school "Virtual Console" games on iOS, but make it so they only work with their controllers. Some people might balk at this, but the fact is that foisting controller-based games onto a touch interface is terrible. Since Nintendo values the customer experience as highly as Apple, forcing people to use their  controllers will ensure a consistently solid playing experience.
    Yeah all great ideas, except the part where it is against App Store rules to submit a game that requires a controller. Something Apple is eventually going to have to relax on, IMO.
Sign In or Register to comment.