Lauren Goode

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Nintendo’s Iwata Blames Slow Wii U Sales on Software Gaps, Says Mobile Isn’t Impacting Industry

Smartphones shaking up the game industry? Nah.

MarioAndLuigi

That’s according to Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president and newly appointed CEO of Nintendo of America. Iwata addressed the company’s stance on mobile and slow Wii U sales in an interview at the E3 gaming conference this week.

“I am not of the opinion that the spread of smart devices has been impacting the videogame industry,” Iwata said.

When asked whether Nintendo games would ever come to smart devices, such as the iPhone or Android phones, Iwata also was adamant: “Nintendo has no intention to provide smart devices with our games — at all. Our IP is the most important asset with which we can attract people to our own platform.”

Iwata’s remarks on smartphone and tablet gaming hardly come as a surprise to industry followers. The Japanese game maker has been largely resistant to the idea of mobile apps as a part of its strategy, instead focusing its mobile efforts on its own DS handheld devices. Hardware competitors Sony and Microsoft, meanwhile, have introduced Google Android and Apple iOS apps that act as companions to existing games and game consoles.

Nintendo has been somewhat understated at this year’s E3, having launched its new Wii U console last fall. The company opted to hold a “software showcase” instead of a large press conference, and released news bits and game trailers via YouTube rather than splashing them across big screens onstage.

Iwata

And at press events held by third-party publishers Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, Nintendo got nary a shout-out.

So yesterday, some of Nintendo’s most respected producers and developers appeared onstage to promote new games in the Super Mario, Mario Kart, Smash Bros., Donkey Kong, Pikmin and Legend of Zelda series. Two men wore cat ears. (Mario turns into a cat in the next version of Super Mario 3D World.)

The move underscores Nintendo’s strategy of using its proprietary software titles to draw consumers to its hardware.

In fact, Iwata said that has been part of the problem with the Wii U, which has been slow to gain traction. (On a month-to-month basis, its seven-year-old counterparts, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, are outselling the Wii U.)

“The reason why the Wii U has lost the momentum it had during the launch period has something to do with the fact that Nintendo hasn’t been able to provide a strong software lineup, one game after the other, without too many intervals,” Iwata said. “Few people are willing to purchase hardware for the sake of purchasing hardware themselves, so we need to constantly provide the market with software.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

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