Mario doesn't do mobile (and Nintendo suffers)

A man walks pat an advertisement for Japanese videogame maker Nintendo at a Tokyo electronics shop on October 30, 2013. Nintendo said on October 30 it swung back to profitability for the six months to September on a sharply weaker yen, but the Japanese videogames giant struggled with tepid sales of its Wii U console.

Gamers have been getting excited about new Xbox and Playstation consoles for months. But what about...the OTHER one?

Nintendo released its earnings today. And, despite some nice sales of its latest offering, the Wii U, the Japanese gaming company is struggling with what many are calling a strategic error -- the decision to not go mobile.

These days Nintendo makes most if its money from its portable devices like the DS. And in a world where every smart phone can be a gaming device, that is a big problem.

“Nintendo’s biggest challenge is trying to figure out how to tell smart phone people that yes, you want to play a casual Mario game but you are going to have to spend $150 bucks in order to do so,” says Jeff Ryan, the author of "Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America." 

If gamers can play the latest Mario or Zelda on their phone there would be no reason to buy a DS, though Nintendo did launch a Pokemon app last year.

That “was their baby step into the pool to see if this is worthwhile for them,” Ryan says.

And while the app could provide a new source of revenue for the company, it will only be effective in the long run if its hardware sales aren’t squashed as a result.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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