Technology

Nintendo's first smartphone 'game' delay sees shares fall

Nintendo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nintendo's first smartphone game did not include a Super Mario offering

Nintendo has announced its first smartphone 'game', but delayed its launch from the end of the year until next March.

As some predicted, it was not a Super Mario game, but "Miitomo", an app in which players create their own avatars to talk to each other.

The company's share price fell as much as 10 percent on the news.

But one analyst said it was a typically cautious and prudent first step into smartphone gaming from Nintendo.

Nintendo said that Miitomo would be a "free-to-start communication application". Players would create their own Mii avatars, which they could use to chat to other players, it said at a launch event in Tokyo on Thursday. It will also reportedly feature in-app purchases.

The features have more in common with a social network than a traditional Nintendo game.

Miitomo was designed as an introduction to Nintendo's other, yet to be announced, smartphone gaming efforts, the firm said, adding that it planned to have five apps ready by the end of March 2017.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The firm's share price fell 10 percent after the news, but rallied slightly

"Miitomo is exactly in line with how Nintendo should be approaching mobile. It is the ideal toe-dip for the company and its fans," said mobile expert Steve Bailey, of IHS Analysis.

"The first thing people did on the Wii and 3DS was to create a personal, social presence. This is Nintendo replicating that for mobile.

"I don't expect it to be a rousing stand-alone success. This is an exploratory effort and one whose role will be complementary to a broader catalogue of games going forward," he added.

According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Nintendo's new president Tatsumi Kimishima said the firm needed more time to "boost the quality" of its first smartphone offering. After initially dropping 10%, Nintendo's stock price rallied to close 8.97% down at 20,945 yen (£113.46, $173.12).

Shares in the mobile gaming company DeNA, with which Nintendo developed the game, fell nearly 15% to 2,080 yen.

'Risk'

According to Mr Bailey, investors would be well advised to recognise that Nintendo's strength is its intellectual property, such as the Super Mario series of games. Its track record, he said, suggested that the more popular series will be brought to smartphones once the company has gained experience on the platform.

"Hardware is transitory. Despite any near-term market grumbles, the greatest risk Nintendo faces is diluting that IP. Anyone expecting a Super Mario freemium game before the year is out, will probably need to throttle those hopes," he said.

"Nintendo has the potential to carve itself a unique and profitable position on mobile, but the journey there may frustrate those investors expecting immense, immediate success. Having to navigate those expectations while preserving the value of its IP, is going to be the key challenge for Nintendo in mobile."

In a statement, Nintendo said it would "consider any and all Nintendo IP as candidates for future apps".

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