As the Summer months drift towards their conclusion (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) we head into Fall / Autumn, and what that brings is a period of great intrigue in the world of Nintendo. On the one hand the company will eventually need to spill the beans on its NX system and - in one stroke - end all of the debate over what it actually is, and on the other it'll be getting into mobile gaming in a bigger way. Looking back now we see that Miitomo exploded out of the gates but then fell away just as quickly, with interest dropping fast due to the limitations of the social app. That obviously won't have been Nintendo's plan, but that's the reality.
Pokémon GO (in which Nintendo is an investor and not, remember, the core beneficiary) has, as all know, been somewhat different. It's been a phenomenon, and it's still - at the time of writing, amazingly - the highest grossing app on iPhones in the US. That's one snapshot of data, but it's a revealing one - download numbers fall due to tens of millions already having it, and the bubble only goes so far, but none of that has blunted its continued money-making power as it has a sizeable and loyal audience. Here's the key bit - that's despite thousands of gamers (probably) declaring on forums and social media over the past month or so that they're done with it, fed up with 'broken' features and Niantic's shutdowns of third-party apps and tools.
That, right there, is mainstream reality. The demographic of dedicated gamers and enthusiasts is smaller than many would like, and is only one part of picture. We know how big the hardcore Nintendo demographic is based on the falls from the Wii / DS generation to the current era - few outside of the hardiest fans, clearly, have bought into the Wii U. How else to explain phenomenal sales of key Wii U titles - as of 30th June there had been 13.02 million consoles shipped, yet Mario Kart 8 has shipped 7.7 million units. That is bonkers (also impressive), and provides a glimpse of a loyal audience in its millions, with various other Wii U titles shipping three million units and above. That's impressive on one hand, but those numbers aren't good enough for a multi-billion-dollar corporation like Nintendo.
What's our point? Well, it's that Nintendo - like every other entertainment company - needs to appeal to the mainstream. It will try to do so on its own terms, however, as it did with the dual screen and touchscreen of the DS and the motion controls of the Wii, and as it has to a respectable degree with the 3DS. The broader gaming public is incredibly broad and diverse, too, and is actually made up of lots of niche areas - when you look at the 3DS you see neat hardware with a varied library, appealing to different people in different ways. The Wii U, on the other hand, was not enticing enough to a lot of people - if you aren't an all-in gamer or a Nintendo fan on some level, it evidently doesn't offer enough value or desirable content to be worth a purchase; price is another key factor where it went wrong.
In order to be a success on the scale it desires Nintendo needs to cultivate and satisfy its fanbase, of course, but it also seeks more than that. It wants as sizeable an audience as possible, and with that it can entice third-parties and other companies to invest in its platforms. The more games a system has the happier the audience - of all types - is, and then we all win; that's why Nintendo hasn't been shy in pitching the as-yet-unrevealed NX as a new way of playing games, with a likely attempt to appeal to gamers of all persuasions. It's true you can't please everyone, and to try to do so is folly, but that's not to say you should only try to please a small number of people - that's just as foolish.
How does this relate to Nintendo and mobile? It's the fact that the iOS and Android space matter a great deal for Nintendo, in a variety of ways. As we've argued before, tilting at these windmills is a futile activity. It'll happen whether we want it or not. Nintendo sees the mobile space as key to its future - in itself a U-turn in policy when announced in early 2015 - and has invested many millions of dollars with that in mind, forging a complex corporate partnership with DeNA. This isn't a flash in the pan, a cautious dip into new waters - Nintendo is fully invested in making mobile work for its business.
Thankfully, on these pages we've seen many in our community show an openness to this, or at the very least acceptance. Miitomo undoubtedly sparked backlash and caution, with its issues and design flaws frustrating and concerning many, but now we head towards a different phase - Nintendo games / experiences on mobile. Yet there's still a sentiment from some that it's a form of blasphemy, a betrayal of values, for IPs such as Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem to have games coming to non-Nintendo hardware. Let's consider the angles for that perspective.
Personally, I'm not a huge mobile gamer myself, and am firmly in the live-and-let-live but not interested crowd with Pokemon GO, having tried it and not enjoyed it a great deal. I also enjoyed Miitomo for a week before going cold on it rapidly, and at the moment I don't play any games (at all) on my phone. Yet I'm not worried or annoyed about the upcoming mobile titles; on the contrary, I'm excited.
An understandable argument is that bringing a beloved franchise to mobile will distract and / or detract from full console / handheld entries. Yet we're not convinced that'll be the reality, and the structure of Nintendo's mobile development also suggests as much. The current setup appears to be a team effort with DeNA, with Nintendo's partners inevitably handling a lot of infrastructure and network aspects of releases.
The stated intention is to use mobile release to reach a new audience and draw them towards Nintendo hardware, not push them away. Though it's perhaps a little flawed at the moment, My Nintendo also reinforces this, offering regular Platinum Point rewards from playing Miitomo which can be spent on outfits for the app or rewards on Wii U and 3DS. A popular word for mobile strategies like this is 'synergy' , and it's appropriate - mobile is there to strengthen Nintendo's dedicated gaming system business, not weaken it.
It's worth also noting that Nintendo is keen to assuage concerns of 'main' releases in series drifting towards mobile. Earlier this year company President Tatsumi Kimishima pitched both Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing on mobile as introductions to the series, with the latter even having scope to interact with console / portable games in the franchise.
On Fire Emblem for mobile:
We expect that many consumers will experience Fire Emblem for the first time on their smart device, so this application will offer a more accessible style of gameplay compared to the titles for dedicated video game systems. At the same time, we still aim to provide a fully engaging experience as a role-playing simulation game.
On Animal Crossing for mobile:
As I mentioned before, the Animal Crossing series for dedicated video game systems is well-loved for its long-term playability, so we want to offer a connection between the smart device application and the world of Animal Crossing on dedicated video game systems. This will make it even more fun to play in both ways, while offering a new style of play for smart devices.
We are developing this application to provide consumers with strong value suitable to smart devices while also generating synergy with our dedicated video game system business, as this is one of the goals of our smart device business.
There's a clear intent for consoles, namely NX and 3DS in 2017 and beyond, to still take the lead for the company overall, and the upcoming amiibo update in Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a reminder that games even a few years old can be revisited to utilise more current releases and products. It'll be intriguing to see whether Animal Crossing mobile integration will come in New Leaf or an as-yet-unannounced NX entry in the series.
For some, none of that is re-assuring, and that's to be expected. Yet to ignore the mobile market is a mistake for a company like Nintendo. On some occasions successes will make huge revenue (as Pokémon GO has for Niantic, The Pokémon Company and to a lesser extent Nintendo), while on other occasions mobile releases will simply provide valuable brand awareness with millions of new players. Nintendo will no doubt want to achieve both with its future mobile games - monetisation and brand enhancement.
It's worth remembering how vital the smartphone industry is in many aspects of modern business, including video games. Apple is hosting its latest live conference event today (7th September), and it'll dominate headlines while the latest iPhone - including a headphone jack or not - will sell millions upon millions of units. A vast majority of people in wealthy countries have a smartphone, and plenty browse games on the iOS and Google Play stores and try them out.
That's an audience that should be targeted. The key point for the more 'traditional' gamers among us is this - if Nintendo does well in mobile, that may help the company sell more NX (and 3DS, to a lesser degree) systems; that's a good thing for everyone.
Naturally a lot happened shortly after this article was posted. Super Mario Run is coming to iOS in December, while Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem are now delayed until after that release. Pokémon GO is also coming to Apple Watch.
Sadly only a small a mount of mobile games are worth to play. The rest are plagued with the same old formula of a never ending game with microtransaction to get better than your friends. Kind of like Facebook games.
At least I lived through the glory years.
It's looking like it's all downhill from here.
fire emblem shouldve stayed on consoles but animal crossing is perfect for mobile
The problem with a mobile strategy for Nintendo specifically is that mobile gamers want their games for free and to only reference the Nintendo of the 80s/90s.
Nintendo still hasn't quite mastered free-to-play, and they clearly don't understand that mobile gamers don't want stuff like Animal Crossing, stuff they maybe have never heard of, let alone played. What they want is a straight-up NES/SNES emulator, and Nintendo is short-sighted or plain naive to think otherwise.
Pokémon GO did well because it only used G1 Pokémon. If they'd included stuff like Genesect or Florges, it wouldn't have caught fire the way it did.
(I'm not saying I like any of this. Just that this is what mobile-only gamers are like and that it'd be cool for Nintendo to start putting their rehashes on mobile where they'll make tons of money, rather than wasting full-scale console releases on them)
In the places of the web where the latest Paper Mario game is bloodied and criticized to the moon and back for not being like a single game from decades ago, even before its release, I'm not sure there's much availability to discuss Nintendo being a company beyond the brand loyal
I'm surprised there was no mention of NFC... especially for Animal Crossing... most new smartphones have NFC capabilities, so it would make sense for them to take advantage of that with all of the Animal Crossing Amiibo that are available, while also offering an easy way to connect to the console games.
I still don't think Nitneod has ever owned a calendar though so I woudlnt 'hold my breath for both of those games in the "Fall". Probably AC, it's perfect for mobile, then FE in Feb or March. I'm hoping FE gets a game similar to Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes on the DS, Android, iOS and just about everywhere else. It's a match 3 game, but a clever one, not a simple match one. I've never found another match 3 game as good as that one.
Of course, saying Ntinedo needs to "branch out" to mobile is all well and good, but they really need to focus on NX first and foremost. If they have an ND for mobile before NX the internet is going to lose it's ...
Shigeru Miyamoto on the Apple Stage promoting Mario on iPhone right now. Surprising! Cool
This is the end. Mario on iOS
@rjejr Mario runner on iPhone exists! Miyamoto on Apple stage right now. Surreal.
The way Mario is jumping si cool and new
This is so surreal...
@sailornic Hey, at least it's not ad-supported or free to play. It's pay upfront.
He said "on iOS First". It may be available for Android user later
Super Mario Run will be another smash hit on mobile. As long as they keep using the brands people know, they will be downloaded by hundreds of millions of people.
Mario on IOS... muhh
Animal Crossing in November, Mario in December. Where does that leave Fire Emblem?
Good timing on this article considering what just happened at the Apple conference.
@rjejr and Pokemon GO on Apple Watch.
now Pokemon GO on Apple Watch...
Having the mobile mini games having some sort of future connection to main console versions could be a good idea to help fish in new buyers to the NX.
..it can't hurt 'em..
Their mobile games are about brand awareness and offering a gateway to their software library. It's a form of advertising in itself. If it means Nintendo sell more hardware because of it, it can only be a good thing.
I've said it before but if Nintendo plans to sell mobile games, as opposed to just having MT's, they have to be aggressive on pricing.
If mobile supports the console business and console gamers get quality gaming on the go through mobile... there is absolutely no problem with this. For example, kid loves Mario Run. Mario Run includes an ad (and maybe a coupon) for the new Mario console game. Kid buys that and has a more robust experience with the franchise. Going the other way, old Nintendo person like me has a phone but dislikes most mobile gaming options. I then play Mario run for short bursts of Nintendo quality experiences while waiting for a meeting to start. There is no way anyone could possibly hate this!
There is also no game company in the world I trust more to do this right.
why is bey holding that 3ds sideways? it's really bugging me.
AC release this fall, with a follow up NX release to go with it. Then maybe FE will launch alongside a Fire Emblem NX title? I suppose one can hope...lol.
Them releasing all these little games for different IPs (Metroid, Pikmin, AC, FE) brings down the hopes of them actually being a release IP for the NX. There's not much else besides the usual Mario games for the NX (and Zelda which is already announced, but they need more than that). While I wouldn't mind a rehash of smash with all DLC or splatoon for NX since I haven't played the DLC or splatoon, I know a lot of people would mind. The odds of them making Kid Icarus or anything are very low as well.
@doll it's not a 3ds, just a DS. Some games demanded you hold it sideways .
Nintendo completely ruined their console market with Wii U, and made huge blunders with the 3DS too. Now they have to go to the mobile market for the money. So if anyone's unhappy seeing Nintendo games go to mobile instead of Nintendo consoles and handhelds, you can blame Wii U & 3DS for that.
Lol... Nintendo 3DS was a success, and still is.
Nintendo made huge mistakes with Wii U, yes, but the company can’t take all the blame, they actually tried to do something for it, Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, Star Fox, Pikmin 3. You know what all those games have in common? All great games but didn’t sold well. Whose to blame there?
@aaronsullivan "Hey, at least it's not ad-supported or free to play. It's pay upfront."
I think it actually is "Free-to-play" sort of, it's "Free-to-start" like Iwata always wanted. I liked it better when we just called them demos though.
Funny thing, I commented on this article this morning about AC and FE being delayed and I was right.
Know what really sucks though? Well besides me having to post links to IGN, I don't like them, and TW is posting pics like this here w/o even commenting about it:
the fact that Ntinedo is so quick to talk about Super Mario Run and it's other app games while keeping us all in the dark about NX.
I mean, if they can delay AC and FE from the fall - yes fall, it's in the big pic above - until early 2017, why can't they delay NX?
Sorry so angry. I'm glad SMR is a thing - though I hate they let Apple announce it, it should have been Ntinedo's announcement in an ND, not Mario being sold off to the highest bidder in a slave auction - but the NX cone of secrecy is smothering me. I can't breathe.
Mario Kart was released when there was a lack of Wii U games.
I think Nintendo has lost many of its core home console gamers and only a really great line up of games on release day for the NX will help the NX survive.
Releasing Zelda on the Wii U will not help sales of the NX.
Amiibos and Pokémon will not save the NX .
Gamers have a big choice when it comes to things to play games on. But a limited wallet.
Many of those who wanted an NX may now want a smartphone instead just to play Pokémon Go.
@diamond_phoenix thanks! i didn't know.
As long as they still make their own systems as well, I'm happy.
I'm not going to own any of the overpriced bric-a-brac that passes for phones these days.
Most of these seem to be just be reasonably well made IP advertisements that make a bit of money on the side.
Hope they don't focus on mobile entirely, rather, would love that they use mobile as a gateway to attrack new audiences to the home and handheld consoles.
@Luna_110 Yeah, my sentiments exactly. The important thing is to get the audience right, though. Keep the complexity of the game targeted to the platform. Mobile games are simpler fare, while console/handheld games need to stay sophisticated as they are already.
Fellow Android users; ya'll ever heard of an APK? 😅 Second, the overreaction to this is absurd. It is essentially a marketing tool to drum up hype for the NX by bringing Nintendo to an audience that isnt in touch. You'll get your real mario game. Nintendo releasing mobile games doesnt mean their "going mobile". Sony has a whole STUDIO making mobile games, GASP! Are they going mobile too??? No, of course not. It is just a supplemental stream of revenue.
got no problem with them releasing mobile games. i would've expected more interoperability with their console counterparts tho'. i would've thought that the mobile mario game would be super mario player where you play levels made on mario maker.
Yeah, that sums up today nicely.
Fortunately, i haven't owned a smartphone yet. So, i can give my huge attention and love just for Nintendo consoles and handhelds.
@rjejr Shigeru Miyamoto announced it, not Apple. If he can do it on an Apple stage which has way more relevant eyeballs for this announcement than anything Nintendo has been able to do previously, I'm all for it.
Always thought Nintendo was a good fit with Apple so it was cool to see it handled the way it was. Crowd cheered for Miyamoto when he walked on and not just the Apple employee peanut gallery. He got laughs, it was better than most Nintendo live events have gone... but less time to fill and a novelty so it was sort of cheating.
Mario Run is only going to be on Apple. i'm alright with that, but what about androids. I'm alright having Pokemon Go on my IWatch because it gives me a chance to wear it more, but I don't care for mobile games that much. Go was fun for a bit, but I got mad when my game erased. You all better get an iPhone because it is and will always be superior.
@zool Gamers have both a smartphone and a console that is just duh. A phone is normal now. The only person I know who doesn't have a smartphone is my niece Mia. She is three.
@3MonthBeef Oh my bad. How long do the androids have to wait?
@Laki2 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS and 3DS XL combined have sold just over 50 million in 5½ years. DS, DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL combined sold close to 150 million in 6 years. And 3DS has sold a lot fewer games than DS too. That's a failure.
"Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, Star Fox, Pikmin 3. You know what all those games have in common? All great games but didn’t sold well."
Did you just seriously quote Star Fox Zero as a "great game"?
@River3636 that does not seem fair to
@aaronsullivan Miyamoto is practically a god, a living legend. Those Apple fans may drink way too much Kool-Aid, but they aren't so dense that if Miyamoto walked on stage they weren't getting something great. Had he been siting in the audience and Cook asked him to just get up and wave, he still would have got a huge round of applause b/c he's a gaming god - on the Mount Rushmore of game developers there are 4 faces of him - but having him walk on stage during an Apple presentation, they had to know something incredible was about to happen.
And I'm really really bitter it wasn't part of a ND. Or NoA didn't send out a tweet and stream it on youtube or something. I missed it b/c who knew? After all the time I spend on this website I missed the biggest live Ninteod announcement of the year. So yes, bitter.
But my whiny self-rightouenss aside, I still read it playing out thois way.
Apple is king of the harem/castle, he summons his wench/concubine who then goes to lay w/ the king in his bed. Yes, it's great to be the chosen wench who gets to sleep in the kings bed, but it's still his bed, and you were summoned.
I'm Italian, I've seen too many mob movies and tv shows, that's how I see it.
Is it good coverage for Ntinedo? Of course. Stock went sky high yesterday and today. So was the Olympics. But it's still Apple's show, it's not an ND or Treehouse. It's a slight to Ntneods fans to have Nintnedo announce a new Mario game, even a runner, at an Apple event away from their fans. An affront even. "Apple exclusive". How many Nitneod fans have Apple devices? Ok, maybe a lot, but a lot have Android too. And only Gonru has a Windows phone.
So yes, great press for Ntinedo, money in the bank, stock rises. But those are the benefits of being a "Sell-out". That's why "Sell-out" has such a negative stigma too it. It means you are getting something, but somebody else owns you know. Your sold, rented leased yourself out. you arne't in control anymore. Like a 3rd party.
Joke for ya -
Man to woman - Will you sleep w/ me for $10?
Woman - No.
Man - Will you sleep w/ me for $100?
Woman - No.
Man - Will you sleep w/ me for $1,000?
Woman - No.
Man - Will you sleep with me for $1 million?
Woman - Ok, yes.
Man - Will you sleep w/ me for $50?
Woman - No! What do you think I am!!
Man - We've already established what you are, now we are just negotiating the price.
Anybody can be rich if they are willing to sell themselves out. And leave all their fans who got them there in the first place, behind.
And had they announced NX already, and a great big whopping 3D Mario game already, then I woudln't have to feel this way. But they haven't, so I do.
@zool To be fair to Mia she doesn't own the phone, but she certainly knows how to use it.
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