In a surprise move, Nintendo plans to put games on mobile devices in a tie-up with Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA.
The alliance, which involves the two companies holding stakes in each other, will focus on building apps for smart devices and setting up a worldwide membership service to launch this fall, the companies said Tuesday at a hastily arranged press conference in Tokyo.
Nintendo was keen to emphasize it is not abandoning consoles, with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata confirming that his company is working on a new dedicated console code-named NX.
The new apps for the partnership will include iconic Nintendo characters but will not involve porting games developed for the Nintendo Wii U or 3Ds systems. Only new games will be created, the companies said.
However, all Nintendo intellectual property like its games and characters could be used in new game development by the alliance, which has yet to announce a game lineup and availability. The global online membership service will be open to mobile devices, as well as Nintendo consoles and PC platforms.
The move represents a path forward for Nintendo, which has struggled to find a way to embrace the lucrative mobile gaming market while preserving its heritage and presence in video game consoles, which it has produced for decades.
"We do not share this pessimistic view of the future for dedicated video game systems," Iwata said in reference to negativity related to the future of consoles. "We are challenging ourselves to redefine what 'Nintendo platform' means."
Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.