It's Mario Time! 5 Reasons Why Google Should Buy Nintendo

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When I say my 4-year-old son is a Nintendo nut, I'm not joking. Sometimes he looks for his 3DS before he grabs his cereal bowl after he first wakes up. And when I get home from work and ask how his day was, he'll tell me what level he's on in "New Super Mario Bros." Did I mention he also has a Mario sweatshirt? Actually, I've noticed lots of kids really, really love Nintendo, from the handheld consoles up to the aging but still amusing Wii. Parents, too, me included.

But the writing is on the wall. Nintendo had to slash prices on the 3DS to prop up sales as more and more consumers turn to smartphones, tablets and the Web to get their gaming fix. And analysts are seriously questioning whether the upcoming Wii U will be enough to win back those who have moved on to the Kinect and mobile devices. Which is exactly why Google should swoop in and make Mario its own. Here are five reasons why Google should buy Nintendo right now.

1. Android surpasses iOS overnight in gaming.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has categorically denied that his company would make games for smartphones, saying that it "is absolutely not under consideration. If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo." It's time for the company to change its thinking. There won't be a Nintendo left in a few years if the company doesn't figure out a way to get on smartphones and tablets. The Sony Xperia Play proves that consumers don't want an awkward phone/console hybrid. They just want great games.

I guarantee you that a lot of people would buy Android phones or tablets instead of iOS devices merely based on the fact that Mario and Zelda were exclusive to the platform. And while Nintendo wouldn't be able to get away with the $40 it charges for 3DS titles, it would make up the revenue in pure volume. There are more than 300 million Android devices out there, and 850,000 are being activated each day. Plus, Google would give Nintendo its own section of the Google Play store, similar to the treatment Xbox Live games get on Windows Phones.

2. People would actually use Google+.

Google says it has more than 90 million Google+ users, but according to a recent report people are actually staying on MySpace longer each day than Google's fledgling social network. Some blame the somewhat complex layout, and others say it's just a case of too-many-services fatigue. But imagine if Google+ let you play Nintendo games online with your friends and if you got pinged with invites while conducting Google searches. It could be game over for the likes of Zynga, which has made a killing on Facebook. I could also see people using Nintendo characters as their avatars in Google Hangout video chats. (I would pick Bowser.)

3. Google TV gets a serious kick in the pants.

Yes, Sony would probably back out as a Google TV partner if it knew that Nintendo games might come pre-loaded on a Google TV or set-top box, but just imagine the payoff. I fully anticipate that Apple's first TV will incorporate iOS games in some way, so a deal with Nintendo would be a shrewd defensive maneuver. Nintendo could still keep the latest and greatest titles for its consoles while making only classics available for Google TV — at least at the beginning.

4. Nintendo makes the Google brand more friendly, approachable.

Google didn't change the name of the Android Market to Google Play on a whim. It's a strategic shift meant to signal that its store is supposed to be a place to get fun stuff, from movies and music to books and games. What better way to soften Google's robotic, algorithmic image than with characters like Donkey Kong, Luigi and Princess Peach? Plus, Nintendo is so popular with families that kids would ask for an Android phone to be their first smartphone, which would be a very powerful advantage against Apple.

5. Think of the next Virtual Boy!

I remember wondering after my first marathon session with Mario 64 back in the day how fun it would be to wall-jump in real life. (Yes, I'm a nerd.) Well, imagine if Google and Nintendo put their heads together for the upcoming Google glasses, which apparently will have a heads-up display built in. Nintendo could help erase the bad memories of its ill-fated wearable Virtual Boy system with an augmented reality experience that would have people across the country jumping on virtual Koopas.

Why Nintendo won't budge, but should

Nintendo probably won't heed my advice, and a lot of it has to do with the company's culture. "I think Nintendo wants to be independent and I think a lot of it is pride," said Michael Patcher, an analyst with Wedbush-Morgan. "They look down their noses at what companies like Google are doing on the game side. They don't consider those real games."

Tell that to the millions of people who are turning to their iPhones, iPads and Android devices to play both casual titles like "Draw Something" and immersive, console-quality fare like "Infinity Blade." Heck, even Dave & Busters has installed a big-screen version of the smartphone hit "Fruit Ninja." What does that tell you?

Nintendo believes that its franchises can be exploited only on dedicated Nintendo consoles, but it's exactly that line of thinking that has caused the company's stock to plummet more than 45 percent in the past year. "They're losing the casual gamer, Patcher warned. "They're always going to keep the Nintendo faithful. But their addressable market is going to be significantly smaller." That won't happen if Nintendo wises up and takes a call from Larry Page.

Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP's online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark's SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • rlwheele Says:

    Let's face it... Nintendo has needed to join the online revolution for years now. Getting Netflix is great and avoiding being an all in one media box has gone alright for the big N only because of the genius of Shigeru Miyamoto and his motion controllers. But the days of the dedicated gaming console have been over for quite some time now. The Wii U isn't going to be able to compete without embracing a full media experience. As much as I love Nintendo they aren't gonna do that over night without a partner and to me Google seems like the best shot. I agree with most of the points above minus the last one. Maybe the best reason for Google to aquire Nintendo is Miyamoto. Who has done more to change gaming than Steve Jobs did for well anything really. I can only begin to imagine what he might do with the resources of Google.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    So Nintendo does have a real problem. For those in denial, look at this: "But with that Wii boom waning, the successor being prepared by the creator of Super Mario looks like a losing proposition, as makers of smartphones and computer tablets take digital games to the bathroom, the commuter bus and back to the bedroom."

  • Blaine Barber Says:

    Buying Nintendo would be a waste for pretty much any company. Nintendo succeeds because it can do its own thing and it is able to attract the very best people in Japan. As soon as they are no longer "Nintendo", that all ends and the value of the company becomes nil. More importantly, it would be a disgrace to what is arguably the most important company in the history of video games, and Nintendo fans would probably start riots and burn down Google headquarters.. And BTW, Pachter is ALWAYS wrong.

  • gil Says:

    Such a stupid article! It's obvious they aren't more than just a casual gamer. Mobile games just cant compare to the quality and depth of portable or console games. Why not Sony or Microsoft? Its always "Oh no Nintendo needs to do...." such a joke!

  • Paul Says:

    You lost any respect when you quoted Pachter...Your son must be so ashamed of you...

  • Kiigu Says:

    No matter how much I liked Google and Android, Nintendo should still remain a separate company. Nintendo did innovate on its hardware, despite losing a little in power with competitors, it keep pushing a new way to the gaming. Making their title available in other marketplace would just wound Nintendo main business and hell, playing fast-paced Nintendo game on touchscreen smartphone is awful anyway. Nintendo games work best on their hardware. Period.

    Beside, Nintendo has a long history and is a proud Japanese company. Getting it acquired by non-Japanese company is not an option for them obviously. It will never happen.

  • alex Says:

    NOT ! if Google buy Nintendo, it is the end of Nintendo. Google is holding to many information it is Dangerous.
    If anyone should buy Nintendo then it is Apple. and Nintendo must buy SEGA to survive alone.

  • Kyle Souza Says:

    I've actually been working on Nintendo and Sega apps for the Google TV platform. I just love the old games, and they aren't offering all of them on the Wii and other consoles. I see Google TV as a way for people like me who want Shadowrun (Genesis) and Mystic Quest (SNES) to be available to play, and since my Genesis stopped working about two years ago (yes, I kept it working for a while) I need a different platform, and I love Google TV.

  • Israel Says:

    Mark...It looks like you don´t know anything about Nintendo. Stop writing about this, please.

  • Anthony Says:

    Sorry Mark but no one wants nintendo on a mobile market only those who think nintendos needs to because they think they are failing as of right now.

  • Alex Rourke Says:

    Nintendo is loaded, they may not being doing super hot now but the Wii and DS are wildly successful and the 3DS is still doing some volume. I agree Nintendo does need a change of mindset if they hope to do well in the long run but they don't need Google or anyone else to change them. I think they should port classic Gameboy (and GBA) games to iOS and Android. Titles such as Pokemon, Mario (Kart and World) and Donkey Kong would be incredibly successful on these platforms. Plus, because it would be relatively expensive to port these titles, Nintendo could sell these titles cheap ($1 to $5 maybe) and make a killing (both in profit per unit and in sheer volume). On top of that, these kind of sales would not cannibalize the 3DS either because the games are less advanced. If anything It could drive sales and interest in Nintendo's IPs and the 3DS/Wii.

    They're really missing out not capitalizing on the opportunity they have, we'll have to see how it goes though. Maybe if they start running out of money they'll consider it.

  • Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    I didn't say that Nintendo needed to be rescued overall. But I do think the synergies between Google and Nintendo could be strong. Especially on Android.

  • Gamer Says:

    I can't stand touch screen only button-less Mario and Zelda Adventure games on Android phones.

  • Mark Says:

    "analysts are seriously questioning"
    small correction.. there is only ONE analyst who, as always, is seriously questioning Nintendo and telling them off for not following his advice. The problem is that Mr. Pachter has never been right about Nintendo or their products.

  • Anthony Says:

    Can we seriously stop with this nintendo needs to join the mobile phone market. Its old and annoying , I dont know if you read but it was recently known that nintendo has enough money saved up to last 3 decades the way there playing out. Then theres the fact that people still assume nintendo is losing market share and value. It was also stated the 3ds pulled in more money then the original ds did in its 1st year and sold about twice the amount of games. Speaking of which nintendo has a huge devoted fan following and nintendo jumping to mobile will have all its hardcore fans stay away from that market in spite of nintendo doing so.

  • alec dragmire Says:

    also, the act that you would quote patcher- of ALL people, shows just how little you know about nintendo.

  • alec dragmire Says:

    google could not afford to buy out nintendo.

  • Zack Says:

    Yeah this would be great and the new wii could use the erie software and the facial recognition and voice command to combat the kinect but they should just propose a partnership so they don't ruffle nintendo's feathers

  • RyanGoddard Says:

    If Nintendo were to be purchased by anyone I would love for it to be Google (for the same reasons you mentioned), but it will not happen for a long time. Nintendo is a very prideful Japanese company with over $10 billion in cash reserves. So for them to hit a point of "dire straits" they will need a lot more than a few quarters of loss in revenue before they even look down that road.

    If Apple had drastically changed its plan 10 years ago, or asked to be purchased by IBM or Intel, when it was still getting pounded by Microsoft it wouldn't be the powerhouse it is today. Instead, they stuck to what they were good at, making only 3-4 products very well and making them better. That, to me, is what Nintendo needs to do and that's exactly how they see it too.

    Either way, great article...except for quoting Patcher.

  • ennan Says:

    Clearly you don't know how much money Nintendo has. It was recently revealed that they could make 130 million loss every year up till the 2050's. If they sell their assets that brings them into the 2070's. The 3DS is shifting faster than the DS did. Nintendo aren't really up against it. They just had one rough year.

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