The Nintendo mobile strategy has had a…mixed reception, so far
If I had to describe the Nintendo mobile strategy to date, I really couldn’t sum it up in one phrase. “It’s complicated?” Damn, I did it!
All in all it’s a really strange history dating back to 2016. There was Miitomo, a game that both we and Nintendo never talk about, and pretend it doesn’t exist (it shut down just two years later). Then we got Super Mario Run, a pretty decent little actual premium game where you bought it, and owned it outright without gacha elements. Of course, that approach didn’t make enough money for investors.
Then we moved into the gacha and microtransaction/monthly subscription era. Fire Emblem Heroes kicked things off with gambling elements, but was a decent little handheld tactical game outside of that. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp egregiously went hard on exploiting its userbase after the fact, and Dragalia Lost, as well as Dr. Mario World, continued the gacha trend. Unceremoniously, the latter just shut down just two years after it arrived. Now we’re in the era of Mario Kart Tour (which also has a sleazy subscription fee option) and Pikmin Bloom (ran by Niantic). Who knows what will happen?!
In any case, Nintendo is still interested in staying in the mobile business. Speaking to investors recently, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa explained that they still want to spread their IP far and wide through more than just their console business:
“To avoid damaging the image that consumers have of Nintendo characters and the affection they feel for them, we are careful to respect the characteristics of each IP. We practice thorough quality control and avoid excessive exposure and expansion. Also, our fundamental belief is that the performance of Nintendo IP on our dedicated video game systems should be our highest priority. With all this in mind, our ultimate goal for the IP expansion strategy is to build interest in games that feature our IP, or in other words, to contribute to our dedicated video game platform business.”
Shigeru Miyamoto chimes in, specifically explaining that the Nintendo mobile strategy is here to stay:
“Our current mobile business is based on ways to build affection for Nintendo IP among these people, and we intend to develop our visual content business from the same perspective. We cherish how people have come in contact with our characters and in-game music through interactive gameplay, and how this has been passed down from parent to child for three generations. We believe there are still opportunities to use IP as a touchpoint to expand the number of people who take an interest in Nintendo games. Therefore, we want to continue our strong focus on quality and creativity when developing mobile and visual content, rather than simply creating greater quantity.”
“Strong focus on quality?” We can hope!