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Nintendo president against putting 'Mario on smartphones'

Nintendo's Satoru Iwata recently mentioned a "new business structure" in light of heavy losses, but more comments make it clear he's still hesitant to put their popular franchises on smartphones.

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Following its third year of annual losses, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata acknowledged missteps and said they need a "new business structure." Those hoping that would mean the long-requested move to mobile might be disappointed, though, as Iwata has signaled that isn't quite what he meant.

“The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles. It’s not that simple,” Iwata said at a news conference translated by the Wall Street Journal (via IGN). “It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones."

Smartphones are part of Iwata's strategy, but his comments indicate the plans are more akin to using them as a tool to make people more aware of Nintendo games. He reiterated his attitude that Nintendo's games simply need more awareness. That may not be the sea change some expected after the latest losses, but Nintendo seems to be sticking to its strategy for the most part.

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  • reply
    January 20, 2014 10:30 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Nintendo president against putting 'Mario on smartphones'.

    Nintendo's Satoru Iwata recently mentioned a "new business structure" in light of heavy losses, but more comments make it clear he's still hesitant to put their popular franchises on smartphones.

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      January 20, 2014 10:31 AM

      The 3DS is still doing well afaik... yah wouldn't make sense to put games on another mobile device. Now if they start making Nintendo games on PS4 & XB1, that's another story.

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      January 20, 2014 10:31 AM

      i predict in less than 1 year, i will be playing SMB or Zelda on IOS/Android.

      I've been saying it for years...

      I can play Sonic, why not Mario or Zelda?

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        January 20, 2014 10:35 AM

        god, these first two sentences are basically the Internet distilled

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          January 20, 2014 10:39 AM

          Smartphone gaming is the new Facebook gaming. Everyone's convinced it's going to take over because ... well ... trends ... tech ... blogs?

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            January 20, 2014 12:12 PM

            Well of course we all know there can only be one kind of gaming.

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              January 20, 2014 12:13 PM

              It always has to be transforming towards some imagined, hypothetical point in the future. Any deviation is an anachronism.

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          January 20, 2014 1:12 PM

          I was going to call it Attica Syndrome but you are right, it might as well be the slogan of every internet forum anywhere.

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        January 20, 2014 10:43 AM

        so you just believe they're lying and are currently well into working on a smartphone version of Mario

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        January 20, 2014 10:50 AM

        [deleted]

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        January 20, 2014 11:00 AM

        maybe because they want to keep the quality in their products and sega doesn't care. why the hell would you play sonic with a virtual dpad?

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          January 21, 2014 12:40 AM

          Sega doesn't even exist anymore, it's all just Sammy washed crap these days.

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        January 20, 2014 11:07 AM

        no you dont play sonic on your phone, you kind of fumble and diddle around until the character ends up somewhat near to what you want him to do. smartphone gaming is a farce. unless you hook a gamepad up to it, which has never gained enough traction to matter.

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        January 20, 2014 11:08 AM

        It's a stupid prediction. Why would Nintendo, with a perfectly good-selling handheld system, develop 99cent Mario games when they're selling 10 million copies of Mario for like 30 or 40 bucks for previously said system.

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        January 20, 2014 11:16 AM

        I'll take that bet if you want to put some money on it.

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        January 20, 2014 11:21 AM

        No, you won't. Now please, Shack, stop feeding the troll.

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        January 20, 2014 11:30 AM

        I'll take that bet -- what would you like to give me wager?

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        January 20, 2014 11:36 AM

        you are terrible at predictions

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        January 20, 2014 11:52 AM

        LOL, I would take that bet.

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        January 20, 2014 1:07 PM

        [deleted]

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          January 21, 2014 12:24 AM

          Either that or for years he's been predicting that it'll happen in less than a year and been wrong every year

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        January 20, 2014 1:08 PM

        Well, I admire your consistency I guess.

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        January 20, 2014 1:40 PM

        Why would Nintendo compete against themselves in a market they are still doing quite well in? That would be like nVidia deciding to start manufacturing AMD, or Qualcomm chips.

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        January 20, 2014 2:17 PM

        There just isn't enough money in it for A+++ titles. iOS games usually sell for $.99 for iPhone games to $10 or so for iPad games. There are a few outliers, but most do not sell for more than that.

        If I were Nintendo, I'd recycle the IP into games specifically for those platforms rather than port stuff over or making new IP for it.

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          January 20, 2014 3:18 PM

          There is a market for games that cost more than that. There are plenty of games on mobile that cost more than a $0.99. I have seen several in the $4.99, $6.99 and traditional prices for the final fantasy and XCOM ports.

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        January 21, 2014 12:07 AM

        Because any game solely on a touchpad that requires more than two 'buttons' is an experience irritating to the point of causing Scanners-like head 'splosions? On-screen 'controllers' are god-awful. GTA3 and the like are damn near unplayable.

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        January 21, 2014 2:19 AM

        Nintendo makes more money on the 3ds than they could possibly make on the mobile market at the moment.

        There is not much point in changing their mobile business since it is the only one making cash.

        And Nintendo still has a couple of Billions in the bank, they can keep loosing money like this for 10 years.

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      January 20, 2014 10:41 AM

      Haven't played a smartphone game in ages. Name one smartphone game that isn't designed to while away time or sell in game junk.

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      January 20, 2014 10:42 AM

      I hope this is just a poor translation. What exactly is meant by "business structure"?

      I believe that Mr Iwata is alluding to the fact that Nintendo did a very poor job at asserting itself in the marketplace. A large majority of Americans simply didn't know what the Wii-U was all about, and retailers seemed even more clueless.

      On the release date of the 3DS XL it was nowhere to be found. At bestbuy an employee (in the video game section) was unaware of the release and had to go in the back and open up a box for me to retrieve it. On the fucking release date.

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        January 20, 2014 10:45 AM

        Never-the-less I spent the last year pumping chloroform into the ventilation system of every Best Buy in America. I then performed a frontal lobe lobotomy on every BB employee. Go to your local bestbuy and check it out.

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      January 20, 2014 11:01 AM

      I don't believe awareness is the problem.

      He reiterated his attitude that Nintendo's games simply need more awareness.

      The problem is that buying a console purely for first-party games isn't appealing no matter how good the games are. Nintendo either needs a console that appeals to 3rd-party developers for things other than shovelware, or Nintendo needs to abandon the living room console market entirely and switch to making just software in that space. (The handheld market is different, and they're apparently doing pretty well there.)

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      January 20, 2014 11:02 AM

      Thank tha lawd.

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      January 20, 2014 11:02 AM

      good. who the fuck wants to play SMB with a v-pad?

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        January 20, 2014 10:15 PM

        I'd play with Peach's V-pad. If you know what I mean.

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        January 20, 2014 10:21 PM

        I mean, I'd pound and mash that V-Pad.

        I'd be all quarter circle dragon punch that pad all night long.

        And Daisy & Pauline be players 3+4 respectively.

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      January 20, 2014 11:08 AM

      I should be in charge of Nintendo. Step 1: Open the Virtual Console floodgate. Step 2: Enable wifi chip in wii u gamepad to allow for remote play from outside your house. Step 3: Release Nintendo minigames for smartphones that lure players to Nintendo consoles, like a Mario Temple Run or Mario Party mini. Step 4: allow for game sharing across Wii U's. Step 5: Cross buy games like Smash and Kart 8. Step 6: bring back Donkey Kong cereal and get back into 80's marketing like Mario toys at McDonalds and awesome commercials. Step 7: tie digital games to an account, not a single piece of hardware. Step 8: Pokemon U and some new ip that makes Grand Theft Auto V and Bulletstorm look like kids games (Machete: the video game or Evangelion or Cloverfield the game.) Step 10: Pizza Hut app.

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        January 20, 2014 11:14 AM

        Forgot Step 9: give Reggie more that he can say when on the world stage than just introducing Cranky.

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        January 20, 2014 11:29 AM

        Most of these are obvious ideas that everyone has been saying since even the days of the original Wii. I don't know what Nintendo's deal is with some of them.

        The one I definitely disagree with is Nintendo needing mature rated games. They don't. They just need fun games. Maybe more adult games, but they don't necessarily need to be "Mature-rated". Metroid Prime would be a good example of what they need. They've had mature games in the past, even exclusive (Manhunt 2), and it didn't do anything for them. They do have some (presumably) mature rated games coming. Bayonetta 2, for example. That'll be good. I think Nintendo just needs more variety. More than Mario and his spinoffs, DKCR, and Pikmin. They have a good report with Platinum Games. They need to milk that.

        I think Nintendo needs to create some new IPs. They need something like an Uncharted or MGS.

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          January 20, 2014 11:32 AM

          That was supposed to be "rapport". Not sure what happened there.

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          January 20, 2014 11:46 AM

          Step 11: Nintendo needs to stop being lazy.

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        January 20, 2014 11:52 AM

        There is no Xenoblade HD re-release in this list.

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          January 20, 2014 12:01 PM

          Step 12: Xenoblade HD rerelease, a new Balloon Fight with wifi play, a new Kung Fu with Samurai champoo fighting, a new Star Fox and F-Zero, and buy Mega Man from Capcom and make new Mega Man games.

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            January 20, 2014 12:23 PM

            I'd support the Mega Man idea, but you're Nintendo. Go bigger. Just friggin buy Capcom and restructure it. Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, RE, Phoenix Wright and so many more.

            Truth is unless Capcom declares bankruptcy they probably won't drop Mega Man. So just buy them all.

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        January 20, 2014 12:19 PM

        [deleted]

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          January 20, 2014 12:44 PM

          the wii u gamepad IS a wifi device. thats how it works, it communicates wtih the WII U via a custom subset of 802.11n. its just not enabled for use outside of a wiiu. it has been hacked and can be used to stream PC games, but of course N will never utilize it beyond what it currently does even though its clearly capable of alot more.

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            January 20, 2014 1:04 PM

            The gamepad doesn't have any storage space though right? So how does playing outside the network of your Wii U work? Streaming from your house could work, I guess, but that's probably not ideal for many customers. Cloud gaming would be interesting, but nobody is really there yet.

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        January 20, 2014 12:26 PM

        They already do toys at fast food places.

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      January 20, 2014 11:09 AM

      If you don't want to put your main franchises on Android/iOS/WP that is understandable. That said why not experiment creating a new IP specifically for mobile phones that won't directly compete with your mainline stuff. You can test the waters so to speak to see what would really work for your company.

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      January 20, 2014 11:18 AM

      [deleted]

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      January 20, 2014 11:21 AM

      The problem is that Nintendo games are the only ones worth playing on the wii u.

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        January 20, 2014 11:23 AM

        That is pretty much the problem I have with the Wii U at the moment. I want to play the new Mario games and the new Donkey Kong Country game but I have a hard justifying a console purchase for 3 or 4 games.

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          January 20, 2014 12:42 PM

          In all honesty: pick one up this spring/summer. You'll have everything from 2012 and 2013, plus a new DKC, a new Mario Kart, and a new Smash Bros. And I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo plans to release Zelda U by Christmas.

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      January 20, 2014 11:22 AM

      They should put the first two worlds in Super Mario World on iOS for free, and have a message at the end saying "Full game available on virtual console on Wii-U!" along with a video add or something like that.

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        January 20, 2014 12:43 PM

        If they're going to support mobile games, I'd rather than make games FOR that platform designed to spread brand awareness. Mario doesn't need to be a platformer; Nintendo's cast him in spin-off games for decades. Just create a game for iOS, starring Mario characters and set in Mario's world, with controls DESIGNED AROUND a touchscreen. Which means no platformers. That would hurt Nintendo's brand, not help it.

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          January 20, 2014 1:02 PM

          I was thinking they could optimize controls as much as possible, and the first two worlds are easy enough you could beat them without perfect controls.

          It would kill that "mario feel" which is a big part of why those games are great.

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      January 20, 2014 12:13 PM

      [deleted]

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      January 20, 2014 12:16 PM

      imagine the day if Nintendo folded up, and the IP came up for sale....

      They have way to much cash reserves probably

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      January 20, 2014 12:43 PM

      It's just as well. Nintendo has a LONG, LONG, LOOOONG way to go before they become savvy enough to put their games on mobile anyway, as they barely even understand how the internet works. Of course, they could HIRE people who are experts in these sorts of things, but that's not Nintendo's bag.

      I have a feeling we will all be here around the same time next year, lamenting another devastating financial loss for Nintendo, and shaking our heads at Iwata as he shrugs it all off and ignores the downward spiral his company is in. After all, we're already used to Nintendo doing the same thing over and over, so why should this be any different?

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        January 20, 2014 12:43 PM

        The fact that Nintendo isn't porting Mario games to mobile means they ARE savvy. Platformers suck on mobile phones.

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      January 20, 2014 12:47 PM

      that's an odd decision, I don't know why they wouldn't. they are in a free fall. they need a life line.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-20/japan-s-topix-swings-as-shippers-gain-nintendo-plummets.html

      they can't turtle up like blackberry and think they can influence the market as they see fit. nintendo needs to reach out for help.

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        January 20, 2014 12:49 PM

        Platformers suck on touchscreens. Putting a Mario platformer, 2D or 3D, on iOS would hurt the brand, not help it. It would also cannibalize sales of their platformers on 3DS.

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          January 20, 2014 12:54 PM

          nah. this is an opportunity they are missing to innovate and expand.

          http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/187126/lets_talk_about_touching_making_.php

          I feel nintendo is trying to assert they know what they are doing, and they FEEL they do, however empirically speaking the results seem to be the opposite. so you want them to double down on their existing strategy, I take it? I would say that turtle up advice is woefully incorrect. they need to learn from apple and figure out how to make more devices people want, get them software they want, and not worry about cannibalizing. that term isn't relevant here. saturation is a term people are worried about with samsung and apple... not cannibalism. nintendo has a LONG LONG way to go before they are even remotely in danger of cannibalism.

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            January 20, 2014 12:58 PM

            Neither 'turtling' or 'innovating' are actual strategies anyway. They're just words people use to describe how they feel about a company.

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            January 20, 2014 1:03 PM

            Even if they created a good Mario game on smartphones, it wouldn't solve their problems. That's a supplemental market for a company the size of Nintendo, not a primary market. Their primary markets are handhelds and living room consoles.

            Turtling up and continuing with their current strategy is definitely the wrong choice, but so is betting on the smartphone market to save them.

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              January 20, 2014 1:16 PM

              I agree, the term they need to see is "supplemental". no one is suggesting to abandon consoles for 100% exposure via other folks' smartphone hardware. but it just seems like they did not learn anything from blackberry's rapid demise, where they wanted to stand alone and that's that.

              On Friday, he repeated his mantra: good games sell hardware. It’s just that customers now need more convincing.

              Mr. Iwata noted that GungHo Online Entertainment Inc.'s hit smartphone game, “Puzzle and Dragons” became a million-seller on the 3DS within a month of its launch on Nintendo in Japan in December, although it was already ubiquitous on mobile phones.

              so they repackage games for re-release on the 3DS. if that's their underlying method to sell hardware, with good games as he says, why aren't they repackaging other consoles' games to sell their consoles? it seems it exposes a few problems. they don't have the good games library they think they do, or refuse to obtain them. then, the underlying hardware may not be as good as they think it is. it seems the WiiU has 214 games. http://www.nintendo.com/games/gameGuide?system=wii+u if good games sell hardware, and that's their strategy, it seems sound they don't have good games on the wii U... but they do on the 3DS, right?

              the 3Ds has 583 games. http://www.nintendo.com/games/gameGuide?system=3ds

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        January 21, 2014 12:20 AM

        They would simply kill the Mario IP if they put it on touchscreen. They make a lot of mistakes but they're not that dumb.

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      January 20, 2014 1:07 PM

      I lawl at all of the people who want Mario on their phones so they don't have to buy a Nintendo console. Just own up to your cheapness already.

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      January 20, 2014 1:34 PM

      Sadly, I think Nintendo's done in the living room, unless they want to concede innovations and build an Xbox.

      However, their handhelds are still going very strong and I hope they remain so for a long time to come.

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      January 20, 2014 2:15 PM

      Probably time to get a new president because this one is running the company into the ground.

      I can see not porting titles to iOS or Android, but it would make sense to expand IPs to different devices. If I were them, I'd have new Mario and Zelda titles on everything that can run them.

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      January 20, 2014 2:17 PM

      Why can't I play Uncharted or Halo on my iPhone?!

      ::eye-roll::

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      January 20, 2014 2:44 PM

      [deleted]

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      January 21, 2014 12:17 AM

      I bet they're going to make games for smartphones, but not major ones. New stuff in the vein of Dr. Mario or the Minis on the Move game. Small smartphone games that just happen to have huge Nintendo licenses in them so they can make a billion dollars on a goofy Pokemon game that doesn't involve catching them.

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      January 21, 2014 12:39 AM

      Gaming will die if Nintendo were to ever lower themselves to make mobile games.

      It would ruin all the magic.

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      January 21, 2014 1:45 AM

      If I were nintendo this is what I would do.

      Sit out this generation, keep the Wii-u as is, and try and get it as cheap as possible. Know that for the next couple of years the Wii-U devision is going to make big losses, but know that you have a plan for after that. Spend this time building great relationships with small studios and indies, get as many downloadable titles on the wii U as you can. Make the Wii-u the cheapest access point available for most downloadable titles.

      In a couple of years you get ready to launch a new handheld that will replace the 3ds and the Wii - U. It will be completely portable, and backwards compatible, and you will be able to broadcast from the controller to a Tv or monitor over wifi.

      This means they arn't halving their developer attention between two different systems. All of their fantastic 1st party titles are on one device, and they also bring that natural 3rd party support that comes with their portable line.

      The device would have similar performance to the wii-u has currently, but a nicer screen plus multi-touch, and a better battery life.

      I'd buy one of those.

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