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Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo's most successful mobile game by a huge margin

Nintendo's strategy game pulled in almost $300 million in its first year - five times more than Super Mario Run.

Published onFebruary 21, 2018

  • Fire Emblem Heroes estimated to have pulled in $295 million in its first year.
  • Nintendo’s strategy game thought to have made five times more than Super Mario Run.
  • Overall revenue still lagging behind industry juggernauts like Pokémon Go and Clash of Clans.

New research data has suggested that Fire Emblem Heroes pulled in just under $300 million in worldwide revenue in its first year, making it Nintendo’s most successful foray into the mobile gaming market by an enormous margin.

According to Sensor Tower, the strategy title generated $295 million in gross revenue in the twelve months following its initial launch in 2016 across Android and iOS platforms. The whopping figure is almost five times that of Super Mario Run, which is estimated to have grossed around $56 million.

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Fire Emblem Heroes is also far ahead of Nintendo’s latest mobile release, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which raked in around $20 million in its first two months on the Play Store and Apple’s App Store. By comparison, Heroes generated roughly four times that amount ($86 million) in the same timeframe.

At a glance, the fact that a Fire Emblem title – a relatively niche franchise in Nintendo’s extensive IP library – could top an Animal Crossing game, let alone any game that features the Japanese giant’s iconic mascot, Mario, should be a huge shock, but the secret of Fire Emblem Heroes’ success lies in two specific areas: regional popularity and monetization strategy.

According to Sensor Tower‘s report, Heroes is hugely popular in the East, with a massive 60 percent of revenue coming from players in Japan, but also has a sizable 30 percent slice of revenue coming from a US user-base. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, meanwhile, generates 82 percent of its revenue from Japan, while only 13 percent comes from the lucrative US market.

This global appeal is only half of the story, however. Nintendo has made no secret of the fact that Super Mario Run did not meet financial expectations. The company admitted in an earnings report last year that despite hitting 200 million downloads, the game had “not yet reached an acceptable profit point”.

The low revenue has mostly been blamed on Super Mario Run’s in-app fee which asks you to pay $9.99 to unlock the full game after an initial free download. Fire Emblem Heroes, on the other hand, is entirely free-to-play but encourages spending through microtransactions and the just-one-more-go appeal of randomized character drops.

Despite Heroes’ success, though, it too pales in comparison to mobile juggernauts like Clash of Clans and Pokémon Go, both of which hit over or around $1 billion in revenue twelve months after launch.

The big question is whether Nintendo can reach those heady numbers with its future games, especially with a highly-anticipated Mario Kart game confirmed to be on the way.

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