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Nintendo set to launch first app, but don't expect gaming

The app will simply let Nintendo 3DS users tether the device to a smartphone to access the Internet.


One might guess that Nintendo's first mobile app would deliver gaming to smartphones and tablets. But that would be incorrect.

Nintendo and Japan-based wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo will launch an app on Thursday that will let users tether their Nintendo 3DS systems to their smartphones to access the Web. The feature will initially be available only in the US, and Nintendo hasn't said whether tethering might come to other markets in the future.

The move to tethering appears to be little more than an obligatory step on Nintendo's part to acknowledge that the popularity of casual gaming on smartphones and tablets is hurting its operation. Nintendo recently announced that sales of its hardware and software are down significantly.

Despite Nintendo's troubles, the company seems content to simply dip its toes in the water and not go all-in. Indeed, the tethering app simply makes it easier for Nintendo 3DS owners to connect to the Web -- not easier to play games on other devices.

Since Nintendo's recent downturn, many critics have argued that the company should explore the possibility of bringing its first-party titles, including Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda, to iOS and Android. Nintendo has so far rebuffed those calls, believing that keeping its games on its own consoles is the best move.

Still, Nintendo hasn't totally sworn off mobile. The company will launch its first wholly owned mobile app by the end of the year to integrate mobile devices with its playing experience. It's not clear just yet what that app might offer.

CNET has contacted Nintendo for comment on the new app. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via WSJ)