Nintendo games on smartphone? iPhone Mario and Zelda could arrive after DeNA deal

Developer will have access to all of Nintendo's intellectual property, and is likely to use it to make 'freemium' games

Mario, Zelda, Kirby and the rest of Nintendo’s much-loved characters could be headed for your phone. Nintendo has announced an agreement with Japanese mobile developer DeNA that will see the two work together to bring the characters to smartphones.

DeNA will create new games using the Nintendo characters, rather than porting existing ones, “to ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect”, it said. To do so, DeNA will have access to all of Nintendo’s intellectual properly.

The companies will also create an online membership service that will be accessible from smartphones and tablets, but also PCs and Nintendo systems like the 3DS. That is set to launch in Autumn 2015.

Fans of Nintendo have long worried that the company has suffered as it has failed to anticipate the mobile gaming trend and has lagged behind in development of its consoles.

 

Last year, a high-profile hedge fund manager wrote to Nintendo to tell them to join the mobile gaming market. "We believe Nintendo can create very profitable games based on in-game revenue models with the right development team," Seth Fischer wrote in the letter. "Just think of paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump a little higher."

DeNA has found success in making “freemium” mobile games, where users can download the game itself without paying but are then encouraged to pay for upgrades and in-game extras. Over the last year, Nintendo has released its own games in the category, including a game based on Pokemon.

As well as the tie-up, the companies have agreed to buy stakes in each other’s companies. Nintendo has bought a 10 per cent stake in DeNA and DeNA has bought a 1.24 per cent stake in Nintendo.

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