Nintendo is looking to hire more software developers to help it create mobile video games in the vein of Super Mario Run and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. According to people familiar with the matter speaking with The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo has decided to expand its roster of smartphone game developers after its partnership with DeNA "fell behind schedule."
Nintendo and DeNA first announced their partnership in March 2015, and then a few months later in May 2015 explained their schedule: the companies would release their first iOS game that year, and then five more before March 2017. By October 2015, the first Nintendo mobile app -- Miitomo -- was pushed back to 2016, marking the first delay of the company's long term smartphone strategy release plan.
Eventually, Miitomo launched in March 2016, Super Mario Run launched in December 2016, Fire Emblem Heroes launched in February 2017, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp just launched in November 2017. Besides Super Mario Run, every mobile game released by Nintendo and made by DeNA was delayed at some point.
Now, Nintendo is looking to introduce new collaborations with other software developers and "raise the pace of new titles" so that these games don't face as heavy delays as they did previously. While Nintendo took a 10 percent ownership stake in DeNA when it partnered with the company, sources knowledgeable of the new plan stated that it "isn't planning" to do that again with any new developer partners.
Nintendo reported less than ¥20 billion ($176 million) in revenue in the year ended in March 2017 from its smartphone games, including one featuring Mario. Some investors say the mobile revenue has fallen short of expectations, but Nintendo executives say that rather than try to squeeze out more mobile revenue—which could lead to a consumer backlash—they are focusing on converting those users to buy more expensive products.
Potential new developers include GungHo Online Entertainment Inc., which created the mobile game Puzzle & Dragons. For DeNA, company CEO Isao Moriyasu has previously said that the developer "has more smartphone games in the pipeline" in partnership with Nintendo, and both companies plan to "continue the relationship."