Nintendo Delays Emerging Market Console in Favor of Smartphones

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Photographer: GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images

Nintendo Co. will delay the introduction of a new game player designed for emerging markets, preferring instead to test the waters with smartphone offerings.

President Satoru Iwata said Thursday that expanding the smartphone games business will increase its chances for success in emerging markets. Titles for mobile devices may be released as soon as this year.

A year ago, Iwata said the Kyoto-based company would develop completely new hardware in 2015 for emerging markets rather than sell cheaper versions of existing devices such as the Wii U console. Since then, the company announced plans to use its iconic characters in smartphone games, giving it a cheaper way to explore new markets.

“Launching a new console in an emerging market and risking failure is not something investors would welcome now,” said Yasuaki Kogure, chief investment officer at SBI Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Mobile not only offers an existing platform in developing counties, but also a low-cost way of testing the market.”

Nintendo’s shares surged the most in seven weeks on Friday after the company said its move into mobile gaming will help double profit this fiscal year. The stock rose as much as 9.5 percent as of 11:25 a.m. in Tokyo.

China last year ended its 14-year ban on video game consoles, spurring Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. to release their Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the market. Nintendo has yet to announce plans for entry into the world’s biggest market.

“Smart devices have lowered the barrier for people around the world to get to know our games and characters like Mario,” Iwata said Thursday. The company will say more about its emerging markets plans at a business strategy briefing later this year, he said.

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