5 Thoughts on the Rumored Nintendo Gaming Phone

Nintendo has started into the phone game market
Nintendo has started into the phone game market Screencap from Fire Emblem Heroes
The gaming world right now is abuzz with Google’s recently-announced Stadia, an all-streaming gaming platform. I’m pretty skeptical because I’ve tried the similar PS Now service, and all it does is remind me why I should keep my PS3 hooked up or wait for PS4 remasters. However, you can read the technical specs here if you want to judge for yourself.

Lost in that huge news are the rumors that Nintendo might be entering the phone market. Those rumors are admittedly very thin on corroborated details, but with another tech giant entering the market in a big way it’s not at all odd that Nintendo would move in this direction. Here are some thoughts.

5. Nintendo Makes Crazy Ideas Work

The history of Nintendo is riddled with out of the box thinking and surprisingly few outright failures. The Virtual Boy is a famous example, and there’s no arguing the Wii U was a dud. However, this is also the company that gave mainstreamed mobile gaming, motion play, and even using cardboard boxes as part of electronic gaming. Labo has a VR kit now. That’s nuts, but it works. With Nintendo you kind of have to assume that because something is crazy it just might succeed.

4. It’s the Natural Evolution of the Switch

The Switch is easily my favorite current generation console. It takes the best aspects of the 3DS, fixes all the broken parts of the Wii U, and adds indie and tablet gaming into the mix. Gaming consoles have tried to become hubs for all aspects of entertainment, but the Switch has come the closest to the versatility of a smart phone in that regard. Continuing into the phone market would be the next step in a journey that reaches all the way back to the Game Boy.

3. Game Phones are Getting More Nintendo Anyway

Xiaomi has already announced Black Shark 2, which looks like a near perfect gaming phone. The first Black Shark had accessories that more or less worked just like Switch controllers, and if everything is priced similar for the new one the whole set up would be around $525. That’s maybe a lot for a console, but not bad for a new phone which can replace your console. Gaming phones are niche compared to smart phones, but then again, so are gaming consoles (There is roughly one game console for every five smartphone worldwide). As I said above, niche is where Nintendo excels.

2. Nintendo is Warming to Phones

Nintendo’s strongest asset is its first-party games, and for years the company has avoided the mobile market. However, they are finally starting to think in those terms. Dr. Mario World was recently announced, and we already have Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. They are one of the few intellectual property owners who can make tech come to them rather than the other way around. If anyone can redefine the mobile gaming market place, it’s Nintendo.

1. A Family Phone is a Big Market

I have a kid who is right on the cusp of getting her own phone. She’s been getting by on an iPod Touch that allows her to text other Apple users as well as watch DisneyNOW and Netflix, but you can only hold back the inevitable so long. Like a lot of parents I’m terrified by what the full-open world of smartphones holds for an impressionable mind. Nintendo has a long and well-earned reputation for keeping their spaces as family friendly as possible. If you asked me which tech company I would trust my child to have a phone through, Nintendo is first on the list. Plus, durability is always a top priority of Nintendo products, which is another plus for them in the phone market.

Overall, I’m pretty positive about the rumors if true. Mobile gaming might never rival a high end dedicated console or PC, but for people who game in a less intense way it could be a godsend.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner