Following the news that Nintendo is partnering with mobile company DeNA to engage with a smartphone and tablet audience, we look at the differing approaches to mobile adopted by Sega, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo itself.
Sega left console manufacture in 2001, long before mobile gaming became the force it is today. Not only did that allow Sega's blue mascot to appear on Nintendo consoles -- previously unthinkable- - but meant once-exclusive franchises could hop over to mobile when the time came: specifically developed originals such as "Sonic Jump," "Kingdom Conquest II" and "Brick People," plus favorites old and new in "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed" and "Ecco the Dolphin."
Since October 2012, the PlayStation Mobile suite has supported gaming on Android devices: Sony handsets at first, then other brands too. The scheme allowed developers to reach PlayStation devices (PlayStation 4, PS3, Vita) and a cache of Android users in one hit. But PSM's due to close in September 2015, perhaps so Sony can push interoperability between the PS4 and flagship Z3 mobile; a number of older PlayStation games remain available on Google Play for selected, PlayStation Certified devices.
Though much of Microsoft's mobile offering revolves around productivity and MSN news services, there are a handful of Xbox-branded apps: gaming network app "My Xbox LIVE," Smartglass companions for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and access to Xbox Music.
A few Microsoft Studios games are on iOS and Android, including a version of "Kinectimals"; two new February 2015 releases, "Wordament" and "Snap Attack," sport Xbox logos on their store icons, with leaderboards using Xbox IDs. Microsoft's own Windows Phone has a much wider selection, and overlap between Xbox, PC and mobile could increase after Windows 10 arrives.
Long a staunch advocate of exclusive characters and controls selling its own consoles and games, Nintendo won't port existing titles -- it's the characters that are likely to cross over. And some games on Nintendo's 3DS eShop indicate a study of mobile-focused, free-to-play trends.
As ever, Nintendo identifies the rules and plays with them: two free StreetPass games ship with each 3DS, encouraging loyalty and advocacy, with four more available at $4.99 each or $14.99 the lot; the charming "Rusty's Real Deal Baseball" lets players haggle 50% off each mini-games; "Pokémon Shuffle" inserts energy and in-app purchases into an existing Poké-puzzle template.