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Nintendo to launch five smartphone games by March 2017

Amiibo shipments reach 10.5m worldwide.

Nintendo has detailed a somewhat cautious roll-out of its plans to release games for smartphones: five will launch before the end of March 2017.

Speaking in a results briefing after the company announced its first annual profit in four years, president Satoru Iwata acknowledged five smartphone games might have been a lower number than some investors had hoped for.

"You may think it is a small number, but when we aim to make each title a hit and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business," Iwata said.

Iwata stressed Nintendo was also aware of the differences between its own dedicated handheld platforms and smartphone devices, and that development had to take these differences into account.

Heading up the company's new smartphone game division will be long-time Nintendo employee and Mario Kart producer Hideki Konno, seen as one of the major forces behind Nintendo's popular racing series.

While Iwata doesn't specifically mention the producer by name, he's likely referring to Hideki Konno, who has produced several Mario Kart games including the latest entry in the series, Mario Kart 8.

"All of our IP can be considered for a smart device game," Iwata continued. "On the other hand, since the game business on smart devices is already severely competitive, even with highly popular IP, the odds of success are quite low if consumers cannot appreciate the quality of a game.

"Also, if we were simply to port software that already has a track record on a dedicated game system, it would not match the play styles of smart devices, and the appropriate business models are different between the two, so we would not anticipate a great result.

"If we did not aim to achieve a significant result, it would be meaningless for us to do it at all. Accordingly, we are going to carefully select appropriate IP and titles for our smart device deployment."

Iwata concluded by reiterating Nintendo would launch its first smartphone title before the end of 2015.

Nintendo expects smartphone games to become a "pillar" of its revenue - just as the company's Amiibo toy range has already started making money.

More than 10.5m Amiibo have now been shipped worldwide, nearly double the previous figure of 5.7m recorded at the end of 2014.

"Our consumers have been inconvenienced by stock shortages on some of the figures in our Amiibo line-up," Iwata commented. "We have increased production for Amiibo figures that have sold out very quickly after launch, that are indispensable to play a certain game and for which we have received strong demand from retailers and consumers.

"However, we are very sorry that we can't promise at what point we will likely be able to resolve the current situation because figures such as these require a considerable amount of time to produce, store shelf space is limited and it is difficult to precisely predict the exact amount of overall demand."