Nintendo's next president, Shuntaro Furukawa, will make smartphone gaming a priority when he takes the helm of the company this June. In a new interview with Nikkei, Furukawa said that he envisions a future where Nintendo's smartphone gaming arm can become a 100 billion yen ($910 million) business. In fiscal 2017, the segment including mobile games grossed 39.3 billion yen.
To do this, Furukawa plans to increase the output of smartphone gaming apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as launch a singular app that surges in popularity. Outgoing Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima referenced Pokémon Go as an inspiration for this plan. Pokémon Go was a collaboration between developer Niantic and The Pokémon Company, which Nintendo has a joint investment in.
"From what I can see, smartphone games are the ones I want to expand the most," said Shuntaro Furukawa.
"The idea that something will emerge that transforms into something big, in the same manner as game consoles, is the defining motive of the Nintendo business," he said.
When asked if any of the upcoming apps would adopt Pokémon Go's augmented reality gameplay, Furukawa said that he "can't say that there are any that are like that." It's also unclear if the plans for the singular, so-called "game-changing hit" would include existing Nintendo characters or be entirely original.
Nintendo has already begun adding on new developer partners besides DeNA to work on games with new characters, while DeNA continues outputting those with Nintendo IPs like the upcoming Mario Kart Tour. According to Furukawa, Nintendo is also gearing up to "expand cooperative ties" with its developer business partners down the road, further hinting at an increased output for gaming apps.
Smartphone games that have been confirmed by Nintendo include Mario Kart Tour and Dragalia Lost, both with vague late 2018 launch dates. These will follow Nintendo's previous titles Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. In terms of unconfirmed mobile spin-offs, The Legend of Zelda could be the next big Nintendo IP to launch on iOS.