Children of the '90s, prepare your thumbs. Mario is coming to your smartphone.
Japanese video game maker Nintendo will venture into smartphone games, heeding calls from investors to boost revenue by taking iconic characters like Super Mario to players increasingly shunning its consoles. Nintendo, which already warned its annual operating profit would halve on weak console sales, said on Tuesday it was teaming up with online gaming firm DeNA Co Ltd to develop and operate gaming apps. The two companies will also launch later this year an online membership service accessible on mobile devices as well as Nintendo's existing Wii U console and the portable 3DS. "This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told reporters. "It doesn't mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand." Investors have long called on Nintendo to shift its focus to mobile devices after losing customers to both smartphone gaming app makers and console rivals like PlayStation maker Sony Corp and Xbox maker Microsoft.