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Nintendo shareholders push for iPhone games

Nintendo's shareholders are increasingly dismayed at the company's future, pressuring president Satoru Iwata into releasing his company's iconic characters in a series of smartphone games to catch the rising tide of mobile gaming.

With sales of the Wii dropping as few must-have titles are released and fans wait breathlessly for its tablet-controllered successor and the company's flagship 3DS hand-held console getting a massive price cut to spur sales which have been lacklustre at best, Nintendo's shareholders are getting increasingly antsy.

Nintendo's stock is currently sitting at a six-year low, and there appears to be one major contributing factor: the rise of mobile gaming on smartphones. While in the days of the Game Boy - one of Nintendo's most successful and long-lived products - people expected a portable game to cost upwards of £40, the rise of the iPhone and Android has trained buyers to expect on-the-go portable games to cost somewhere between 79p and £5.

It's true that such comparisons are overly simplistic: while a Nintendo 3DS game costing around £30 offers many more hours of fun than a 79p iPhone app, you can buy a lot of iPhone apps before you hit the cost of the 3DS game. That's before you factor in the cost of the hardware, too: someone who's just spent a few hundred pounds on a smartphone is unlikely to want to find the cash to buy a 3DS, even at its new price of around £120 at many retailers.

It's something that Nintendo could resolve quickly: by churning out small, cheap games for Android and iOS devices featuring its iconic characters like Mario, Link, and Samus Aran, the company could ride the mobile gaming bandwagon to financial success while keeping its triple-A titles for its own consoles.

That's what shareholders want to see, Bloomberg reports. "Smartphones are the new battlefield for the gaming industry," claimed fund manager Masamitsu Ohki in an interview. "Nintendo should try to either buy its way into this platform or develop something totally new."

That would require a sea change at the top of the company, however. Iwata has previously declared that Nintendo would never make games for anything except its own platforms, pointing to the Nintendo Official Seal of Quality as the company's guarantee of the gaming experience - something Nintendo would be unable to offer if its software ran on third-party hardware.

It's increasingly clear that the company will have to do something, however: dropping the cost of a flagship device by around a third so soon after launch indicates that the company has been making some bad decisions of late, and if it wants to see its share price recover it's going to take a fundamental change of attitude.