Yeah, I know. You find out Nintendo updated emulator patents to include smartphones, and you think one thing. Mario on your iPhone. Or, Zelda on your Android device. Technically, the patents are for that, but I wouldn’t bet the house on this happening.
The clamor for old school Nintendo games is intense. Hell, it took until the Wii for the company to realize people wanted to play the old school variants of their favorites. Enter the virtual console.
What isn’t happening is what a number of analysts and fans want. The ability to slap an emulator on any device. Why can’t you have an emulator available on iOS and Android to fire up the old versions of Mario? It sounds like a microtransaction dream. Corporate Nintendo is a stone wall at the idea, refusing to jump out of its native ecosphere.
You want Mario? Buy a Nintendo. It sounds crazy on the surface, especially in the light of the Wii U’s lackluster launch. Instead, quality titles released, and Nintendo’s patience has been rewarded with increased sales.
Nintendo Emulator Patents
The news getting play this weekend is actually old news. Nintendo was awarded a patent for what is described as ‘hand-held video game platform emulation.’ Here’s a longer description of the patent.
“A software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform such as GAME BOY.RTM., GAME BOY COLOR.RTM. and/or GAME BOY ADVANCE.RTM. on a low-capability target platform (e.g., a seat-back display for airline or train use, a personal digital assistant, a cell phone) uses a number of features and optimizations to provide high quality graphics and sound that nearly duplicates the game playing experience on the native platform.”
Before you start hyperventilating at the prospects, understand the world of patents. A similar patent existed in 2000, and was updated in 2003 and 2012. This patent is just an updated derivative of those.
Further proof that Nintendo is just protecting the idea and won’t act on it soon is a recent interview with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata by Bloomberg. “Our games such as Mario and Zelda are designed for our game machines so if we transfer them into smartphones as they are, customers won’t be satisfied. If customers aren’t satisfied with the experience, it will decrease the value of our content.”
Will Nintendo properties ever make it to smartphones? I wouldn’t rule it out. If the company wants a pure money play, it has its ace in the hole. Fans would love to have Mario or Zelda portable, but the company insists on keeping its hardware ecosphere. It hasn’t failed them, so changing revenue strategies is unnecessary.
Still, we can dream of Mario and Zelda as an app.