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Nintendo 'studying' mobile devices in wake of bleak hardware sales forecast

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"It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone."

Nintendo 3DS stock
Nintendo 3DS stock

Earlier today Nintendo slashed its sales forecast for the Wii U by nearly 70 percent, which in turn led the company to predict an operating loss of around $336 million. And it appears that drastic change has forced the company to rethink how it does business. "We are thinking about a new business structure," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said at a press conference in Japan earlier today. "Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone."

It's not clear specifically what Iwata means by using smartphones to grow its business, but the company has previously been reticent about the idea of releasing games on mobile platforms, believing that it would lead to short term profits at the expense of long term growth.

"If we stay in one place, we will become outdated."

"If we think 20 years down the line, we may look back at the decision not to supply Nintendo games to smartphones and think that is the reason why the company is still here," Iwata told the Wall Street Journal last June. Of course, the poor sales of the Wii U — not to mention the decreased sales forecast for the 3DS, which was cut from 18 million units to 13.5 million — in no way means the end for Nintendo. But as recently as a month ago it seemed unlikely that the company would deter from its current strategy, and new game releases like Super Mario 3D World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds seemed to only emphasize that attitude. Today's sobering news makes the possibility of a major shift seem much more likely, with Iwata finally recognizing the drastically changed landscape for video games.

"The way people use their time, their lifestyles, who they are have changed," he said at the press conference. "If we stay in one place, we will become outdated."