Mario is coming to mobiles, at last!

Nintendo is bringing its iconic games to smartphones and tablets. The company has signed a deal with DeNA, a Japanese mobile gaming company, which could soon result in Mario on the iPhone and other mobile platforms.

Nintendo has been fiercely protective of its much loved gaming franchises, reserving them almost exclusively for the company's own hardware. Now, however, the company is loosening the apron strings, potentially bringing Mario, Zelda and the company's other legendary characters to third-party mobile hardware.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced the partnership at a press conference this morning, confirming that both companies will play a joint role in developing the new games. DeNA will also be helping Nintendo build its online presence and provide back-end support with its extensive server infrastructure.

However, those hoping for direct ports of classic titles such as Mario Kart are going to be disappointed. "To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, only new original games optimised for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system," reads a statement from DeNA.

Iwata also confirmed this: " We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP," he said.

The first games are expected to be launched later this year, although the companies are keeping mum on which titles we can expect to see first. The pair are also developing a cross-platform online membership scheme, which they plan to launch in the autumn. This will replace the existing Club Nintendo membership scheme which Nintendo announced it would be closing earlier this year and will encompass the Wii U, 3DS, PC and Nintendo's just-announced brand new dedicated games system, currently code-named the Nintendo NX. While Iwata was very vague about what the NX might entail this morning, he said that more details on Nintendo's new console will be announced next year.

Nintendo is taking a 10% stake in DeNA as part of the deal, while DeNA is taking a very small stake in Nintendo in return.

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