Why Nintendo's President Doesn't Play Games on Smartphones

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo Co., speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

Bloomberg News landed a rare interview with the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, this week and we asked plenty of serious questions about the company's strategy and competition.

But we also wanted to get into the fun stuff, given this is a company that makes its money from letting you race digital go-carts and make a fool of yourself dancing to "Call Me Maybe." So we asked Iwata, who's struggling to distract gamers from their iPhones long enough to win them over to Nintendo's machines, what kind of games he likes to play on his phone.

It turns out he doesn't indulge in smartphone games.

Maybe just the occasional Puzzle & Dragons or Candy Crush? Nope. Iwata, who has been at Nintendo's helm since 2002, is a company man. And he's on message. “I haven't played smartphone games that much,” the boyish looking 54 year-old said during a recent interview. “If I have time to play games, I spend as much time as possible playing Nintendo's games.”

Iwata became a star after Nintendo released the original Wii console in 2006 that went on to sell more than 100 million units. The company has resisted making its games available on smartphones because it doesn’t see a sustainable way to make money in a business with such boom-and-bust cycles. That doesn't mean he's not taking note of the latest version of Angry Birds.

“Of course, that doesn't mean I don't have interest or am not doing research on them,” said Iwata. “I get reports highlighting interesting aspects of these kinds of games. It's not something that I would play at the moment.”

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