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Nintendo characters may show up in unexpected places with new licensing deals

Nintendo's plans to actively license its characters has caught the interest of several unnamed parties and is opening up new possibilities for the company, president Satoru Iwata said during a financial results briefing for the 2014 fiscal year.

"We are not at a stage where we can share the specifics with you today, but we are seeing possibilities in licensing character IP in areas Nintendo has never worked before," Iwata said." I expect to be able to discuss some of the details before the end of this calendar year.

"On the other hand, our management policy of actively utilizing character IP does not only mean expanding the licensing business. Generally, a licensing business earns licensing fees from companies that take risks to do their business. Therefore, it is highly profitable, but the impact on sales and profits is limited compared to the company's own business."

In January, Nintendo announced its plans to expand its character licensing business, effectively allowing third-party partners to create and sell merchandise based on its intellectual properties. The company currently has partnerships with companies such as Dark Horse Comics, PEZ International and Hybrid Apparel. Merchandise already includes art books, collectibles, sleepwear and food, as well as characters appearing in other games. Sega's Sonic Lost World recently featured a Yoshi-themed level and content inspired by The Legend of Zelda.