Video game console and games giant Nintendo is making the leap onto the small(er) screen, announcing a plan to release games for smartphones and other mobile devices through a partnership with developer DeNA.
In March, the two companies formed a partnership to develop and operate new game apps for smart devices and build a new multi-device membership service.
The deal will see Nintendo's intellectual property (IP) and game development skills combined with DeNA's expertise in mobile games -- the company recently released a multi-platform title based on Marvel's popular characters, including those from The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
As part of the long-term relationship and commitment by each company, Nintendo and DeNA have also agreed to form a capital alliance, which sees Nintendo acquiring more than 15 million of DeNA's treasury shares -- 10% of its total outstanding stock.
Nintendo said it plans to release approximately five titles by the end of the next fiscal year, which is the end of March 2017.
"You may think it is a small number, but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business," the company noted in a financial results briefing.
The membership service, which is expected to launch in the fall, will encompass multiple devices such as Nintendo's existing Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, the dedicated game system NX, which is currently under development, smart devices, and PCs.
So far, members input their Club Nintendo ID to use the existing services, but with the new service, members will be able to visit Nintendo's website and log in with one ID.
After logging in, they will receive various services, including ones based on their past purchases and gameplay records and new features under an improved version of the current loyalty program.
"With this new membership, we are planning to deploy services that will make playing Nintendo games with their game pals more fun regardless of which platform they are accessing," the statement read. "We will deploy our game business on smart devices not because we think that the dedicated game system business will wane, but because doing so will encourage a greater number of people to associate with Nintendo IP, to become familiar with the charms of video games and, eventually, to explore more premium experiences on our dedicated game systems."
According to a report from research firm NPD Group, mobile gamers are playing more often and for longer periods of time than they were two years ago. The average time spent playing in a typical day increased 57% to more than two hours per day in 2014.
As the Nintendo statement noted and the NPD report also pointed out, while time spent gaming on mobile devices is increasing, traditional gaming devices haven't been abandoned, with console and computer gamers getting played just as much as they were one year ago.
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