Nintendo still refuses to put its classic games on smartphones - instead, it plans to put smartphone games on its console

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People have been begging Nintendo to release its older games on smartphones for years now. But it looks like that's just not going to happen, at least under current Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

In a recent interview with Nikkei (via Kotaku), Iwata said Nintendo plans to actually remake smartphone games for its portable hardware, the Nintendo 3DS, instead of putting its games on other smartphones.

The obvious question is, "Why would I pay Nintendo for a game I already own and play on my smartphone?" Nintendo doesn't have a great answer to that question, but earlier this year it did say it would introduce Mario to the smartphone game "Puzzle & Dragons," so it's possible Nintendo will do more to inject its classic characters into newer smartphone games.
Nintendo's stance is somewhat understandable: It only wants to put its games on its own hardware, in the same way Apple makes most of its software exclusive to Mac computers, iPhones and iPads.

But even Apple knows when to branch out: It made iTunes available for Windows over a decade ago, and it's currently working on its first Android app.

satoru iwata

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata

Nintendo's philosophy, according to president of the Americas division Reggie Fils-Aime (via Re/code), is that its games are best "with our unique and differentiated hardware." That may be true, but Nintendo has had thousands of games over the years, and most of them are collecting dust at the moment.

If you only looked at the oldest classics from the NES and SNES, Nintendo's first two living room consoles that had extremely simple controls and graphics, that's 129 first-party titles right there. If ported to mobile, many of these would probably top Apple's and Google's app stores.

This isn't to suggest Nintendo needs to invest heavily in mobile, but right now, it's completely ignoring the potential of the smartphone marketplace. The company's profits have been improving lately, but it's not out of the woods yet, as its console sales are taking a hit from all sides - Microsoft and Sony on the gaming side, and Apple, Google, and others on the mobile side. (Nintendo 3DS sales fell short of expectations during the holiday season.) Unfortunately, it seems unlikely Nintendo will shift its mobile strategy so long as Iwata remains president of Nintendo. The Motley Fool reports the controversy over mobile has led to something of an "internal revolt" between high-level executives and Iwata, while investors and analysts have repeatedly pressured Iwata to port its older games to other machines, to no avail.

Porting Mario to other platforms "is absolutely not under consideration," Iwata told the Nikkei in 2011. "If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. [Making mobile games is] probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we'd make profits. However, I believe my responsibility is not to short-term profits, but to Nintendo's mid- and long-term competitive strength."