Following a tough couple of weeks, Nitnendo CEO Satoru Iwata met with investors today for his Corporate Management Policy Briefing, which spelled out the company's goals for Wii U, 3DS, smartphones, NNIDs and even never-before-seen technology currently in the works. As you might expect, it wasn't exactly brief, so we've condensed the six most important points into delicious business-y morsels below. Delicious!
1. Wii U won't get a price cut
Unlike most of the announcements that followed, this wasn't the subject of a long explanation: "Obviously, under the current situation where the company has to report an operating loss, simply executing a price reduction as a way to defuse the situation is not an option." Simple as that.
2. Selling GamePad will be the focus
Instead of simply cutting the price of the console, Mr. Iwata made it clear that the company's biggest short-term goal is to help make people understand the Wii U GamePad, and then create games that only it could play: "we have not been able to offer a decisive software title that enriches the user's gameplay experience when playing alone with the GamePad. This will be one of the top priorities of Mr. Miyamoto's software development department this year."
Other goals include using the GamePad's NFC features - which will be fully revealed at E3 this year - starting a GamePad-only DS Virtual Console store, implementing a quick-start menu that boots the Wii U straight into a game (cutting your time waiting for menus to load), and announcing the release of big games such as Mario Kart 8 - which was dated for May.
3. Nintendo on smartphones is coming
While Iwata made very clear, again, that Nintendo would not simply port its games to smart devices, the company clearly has big plans in the arena they've traditionally stayed out of. Announcing that Nintendo would create a "small, select team of developers" to work on creating "something truly valuable that is unique to Nintendo", Iwata revealed that a Nintendo app of some sort will be released this year:
"I have not given any restrictions to the development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters. However, if you report that we will release Mario on smart devices, it would be a completely misleading statement. It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings"
But that isn't the extent of the company's plans outside of their own hardware...
4. NNIDs will become far more important
Iwata made a great deal of the importance of NNIDs, and how they could become the platform for relationships between Nintendo and their customers. The company plans to make NNID your account across all future Nintendo platforms - including smart devices. Iwata said: "The environment in which our users can download paid software is one example of where we should aim to make more off-device improvements than on-device ones", implying that some form of eShop would make it to your phone.
Most interesting is how Iwata sees online sales as a way to experiment with how people buy games. Talking about the traditional £40 price point of games, Iwata explained that selling online meant Nintendo could "establish a new sales mechanism that will be beneficial to both consumers and software creators by encouraging our consumers to play more titles and increasing a platform's active use ratio without largely increasing our consumers' expenditures."
This would be done by making games cheaper as you bought more of them, or discounting games when you invite your friends to buy them too. While it's not a fixed strategy, Iwata explained that "we would like to start experimenting with Wii U at an early stage."
5. Nintendo characters will be licensed further
Nintendo's famously protective of its characters, but it looks as though they might relax their policy a little in the coming years. Iwata announced that "we aim to increase consumer exposure to Nintendo characters by making them appear in places other than on video game platforms."
Giving Nintendo's recent move to allow character merchandise to be sold in the US as an example, Iwata explained that "we will be flexible about forming licensing relationships in areas we did not license in the past, such as digital fields, provided we are not in direct competition and we can form win-win relationships."
6. Nintendo's creating new, non-wearable health technology
The least expected part of the speech was its final part, in which Iwata announced: "We will attempt to establish a new platform business with which we can leverage our strengths, but which is independent from our video game platform business."
This will take the form of non-wearable technology that helps improve the user's health, "providing preventive measures which would require us to enable people to monitor their health and offer them appropriate propositions." We don't know exactly what form this will take yet, but Nintendo plan to eventually have it interacting with their games, and will announce more later this year.
You can read the whole of Iwata's speech here.