Is Nintendo planning a controller for smartphones and tablets?

6 Jul 2016

A bit of a late entry into the smart-device market, Nintendo has so far liked what it has seen. So much so, in fact, that it may start building some hardware to complement the mobile industry.

Mobile devices form an immense industry. Through hardware like smartphones and tablets, right through to software like apps and skins, the business opportunities appear endless.

Now Nintendo, a pioneer of mobile gaming with the release of the eponymous Gameboy in 1989, is belatedly getting in on the act with plans for a controller of sorts.

Dipping its toe in the smart, mobile world earlier this year with Miitomo – a social networking app that has been downloaded more than 10m times – Nintendo likes the feel of it and wants to go big.

“Physical controllers for smart device applications are available in the market and it is possible that we may also develop something new by ourselves,” Shinya Takahashi, director and GM of entertainment planning, said at Nintendo’s AGM.

Takahashi noted that this was one of many ideas, and that developing action games that could work without a separate, tangible controller will also be looked at.

As long as the products are “Nintendo-like”, including apps for seniors, Takahashi seems pretty happy.

Nintendo revealed earlier this year that the new Legend of Zelda game will not be out in 2016 as previously planned, rather held back until 2017, possibly to combine with the release of the new NX console in March.

During the company’s AGM, rising labour costs in China and the knock-on effect that could have on the production of the NX was discussed by Hirokazu Shinshi, GM of the manufacturing division.

“Devices like ours, which are complicated and made in amounts that vary widely from month to month, do not lend themselves to the kind of automation that is easy to introduce for devices with simple structures,” he said, when asked if cheaper manufacturing processes were possible.

“We are in close communication with our partners who manufacture our products. We are now preparing to manufacture NX and hashing out details like the extent of automation.”

Nintendo’s operations are in flux at the moment, with its Q3 results from 2015 revealing that the company’s best-selling item then was a range of plastic figurines called Amiibos.

Super Mario image via ngorkapong/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic