Nintendo pushed back the much-awaited launch of its video game for smartphones to March 2016, disappointing gaming fans as well as investors who drove its shares down by more than 10 percent on Thursday.
Under a strategy announced by its previous chief executive, who died of cancer earlier this year, Nintendo had said it would introduce its first smartphone games by the end of 2015. Fans and investors had hoped it would include its best-selling videogame franchise Mario in the first lineup.
Chief Executive Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who succeeded Satoru Iwata, said the delay would help Nintendo concentrate on selling its existingconsoles and game software during the year-end holiday season.
“The year-end is traditionally our peak season for sales,” told a packed news conference, when asked about the delay. “This way, we’d be able to introduce our new applications after the holiday season is over.”
He avoided commenting on whether Mario would come to smartphones, instead introducing a new social networking service-style application called “Miitomo” which would be available in March.
The news knocked Nintendo’s shares down more than 10 percent in morning trade, erasing earlier gains.
Former CEO Iwata, credited with broadening the appeal of videogames, died of cancer in July just months after deciding to enter mobile gaming despite years of resisting investor calls for such a move.
The Japanese electronics maker — one of the world’s biggest video game companies but a virtual nonentity in the rapidly growing mobile games industry — unveiled its first title for smartphones Thursday in Tokyo.
“Miitomo,” which is set to be released in the spring of next year, is a game that allows players to create avatars to interact with one another socially. The game is the first of five mobile apps Nintendo plans to launch by March 2017, including one that may feature the iconic “Super Mario,” the company said at an investor briefing in Tokyo.
This year marks the first time mobile gaming revenue will exceed console gaming revenue globally, at $30 billion versus $27 billion, according to video game market research firm Newzoo.
Nintendo’s popular franchises, which include “Super Mario” and “Zelda,” “have the potential to be a billion-dollar business on mobile alone,” said Peter Warman, Newzoo’s co-founder and chief executive.
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