Nintendo no stranger to gaming on the go (I’ve been clinging to Nintendo handhelds for as long as I’ve been able to walk) but president Satoru Iwata just let slip some unexpected information about the company’s next mobile foray during a live Nintendo Direct address. No, Nintendo hasn’t decided to make smartphone games — instead, Iwata spoke of plans to let smartphone owners access Nintendo’s Miiverse social network.
Starting this spring, users will be able to access the Miiverse from their smartphone’s web browser, but that’s only the beginning of the company’s mobile push. Iwata also revealed that the company is planning to release a dedicated smartphone application for Miiverse access, though he deftly avoided mentioning which mobile platforms would actually get it.
But let’s rewind for a moment here: what is the Miiverse all about? I can’t blame you if you’ve never had the chance to experience the it — the service is a purely optional, largely pointless component of the Wii U experience in which you can view a stream of messages and drawings left by your Wii friends (personified by those squat, self-designed avatars that Nintendo has grown so fond of). Users can pop in and out of different game-centric communities too, so they can share game tips and perspectives on the unfolding narratives.
Taking that purely game-centric social experience and shifting it off of the console itself seems like a strange move — after all, are you really going to be looking for boss strategies when you’re not actually plopped down in front of the game in question? Still, it’s rather heartening to see Nintendo open its arms to the sorts of opportunities that a mobile presence can bring, and I hope that moves like this may cause Iwata to reconsider his earlier stance on crafting games for smartphones.