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Nintendo's thinking about its post-console future. Are you?

Nintendo's thinking about its post-console future. Are you?

Everyone is considering what Nintendo is going to be doing now that their mobile gaming partnership with DeNA has been announced.

However, I think it speaks more to a bigger trend in gaming: the death of dedicated hardware may be one step closer.

Nintendo is clearly planning for a future without it.

Think about it: growth in gaming has come from the introduction of new players, thanks to bringing games to where they already are, on the web and especially on mobile.

The devices that people use to text and take photos with are also extremely capable gaming devices.

Gaming for all

Gaming is no longer about just the enthusiasts - just the "gamers" - though on mobile we see plenty of people who could fit into the mantle of "gamer" help fuel titles with a majority male audience like Clash of Clans and Game of War.

Newer platforms that aren't necesarily gaming-specific are providing new experiences, and you don't need an Xbox, PlayStation, or a Wii U to enjoy them. You can do so on the devices you already own.

Gaming is no longer about just the enthusiasts.

That should scare traditional gaming companies because they're way behind companies like King, Supercell, Big Fish, Kabam, EA, DeNA, and the like when it comes to these new markets and how players are spending money and playing games.

It's not just "filthy casuals" either. It's increasingly core players, and ones with disposable income. You can say that enthusiasts will stick with what they like, but we're seeing enthusaists take to free-to-play more and more.

And I think mobile - reviled as it is by many "gamers" - will cater more and more to them as they go along.

New futures

The technology is improving. And it looks like Nintendo has understood the people who love Mario and Pokemon games also have smartphones and tablets and would love to play those games on them and now they are following that audience.

The good news for the company is that Nintendo is in a better position to move to mobile than Microsoft or Sony is thanks to their long-running IP. Microsoft and Sony are making future-proofing moves too, but Nintendo could easily be both the future and the past.

Nintendo's future is a software-focused omni-platform

Certainly there are lots of possible futures for gaming, and while powerful, gaming-centric hardware for enthusiasts probably isn't going away, the need for it for more and more people could become unnecessary.

Plenty of people still want 3DSes, as seen by it topping the hardware charts in February. Perhaps there's a future where people keep buying Nintendo hardware because it's a special thing.

Nintendo is thinking about a future where it may make the most sense to not sell hardware.

Though if Nintendo starts pulling down nine-figures from a game or two they release on mobile, they'll realize that they don't need to be making hardware when they can just sell the software, and make lots of money off of it on other platforms.

No Dreamcast

It's also important to remember this isn't a Sega situation where a switch from hardware to software happened out of financial necessity.

Nintendo is thinking about a future where it may make the most sense to not sell hardware.

They're clearly just hedging their bets at this point, though, as they mention the NX hardware they're working on.

But the fact that they're planning for a post-console future should be kept in mind: you should be planning for the day when you don't have a Nintendo system, or a PlayStation, or an Xbox. Instead you're playing all your games on your phone, tablet, Apple TV, and/or desktop computer.

Nintendo's ready for that future, and everyone else should be.

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Stateside columnist

Freelance writer covering mobile and gaming for @toucharcade, @Gamezebo, and more!

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