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Nintendo explains why it chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem for its next mobile offerings

Nintendo's president explains why Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem were selected as the next mobile offerings. News and commentary within.
By
May 3, 2016
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When Nintendo announced it would finally develop mobile apps, the gaming world rejoiced. When Nintendo announced it would be developing those apps with IAP master, DeNA, some of the gaming world wept. When Nintendo announced it would be releasing Miitomo as its first app, the gaming world just scratched its proverbial head in confusion.Here was arguably one of the world’s most established and beloved gaming companies – a company that will spare no expense to “branch out” Mario and friends – offering a non-game.

Miitomo impressions: Nintendo's fledgling first app is a curious creation
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Things became even more confusing – or exciting depending on one’s opinion – when it announced that the next mobile apps were to be Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing. Many blogs from around the internet actually highlighted on the fact that Nintendo now considers Fire Emblem to be a “major IP”.  After the announcement of Fire Emblem – a simulation RPG – and Animal Crossing – a virtual life simulation game – Nintendo’s current president, Tatsumi Kimishima, took time to explain what went into such a decision:

We selected two titles of different categories and IP to reach as many consumers as possible.
We chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem as titles to follow Miitomo from the viewpoint of increasing the diverse types of consumers interested in Nintendo, and widening opportunities for gameplay.
The Animal Crossing series has been played by a wide range of consumers including children and women. I think there is a good chance that those consumers would enjoy this.
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Gamespot offered the following insight into the two products:

[The games are confirmed to have] “more prominent” game elements than Miitomo, which is more of a communication app. The new Fire Emblem game aims to be “more accessible” than the mainline series, but is still a role-playing strategy game at its heart, Nintendo says. As for the Animal Crossing title, it will connect with Animal Crossing 3DS games, but no specifics were shared.

Both of these games will debut this fall, after which there will be an additional two mobile products released before 2017, as per Nintendo’s commitment to have 5 offerings. The company hopes that the mobile segment will become a “pillar” of its business.

“Inspiration” /2

Despite the fact that Miitomo has managed to get 10 million users worldwide in the span of a month, some feel that the lack of content in the product will mean that all but the most devoted will move on from it quickly. Currently, the offering consists of little more than answering random questions, dressing up an avatar in different clothing, shopping for clothing, and a Pachinko “game” to…get clothing. The product from which it was derived from, Tomodachi Life, is a much richer, much more interactive and creative piece of software, raising the question as to why Nintendo deemed it acceptable to remove so much content?

The question is thus raised as to how far Nintendo might go in terms of limiting the scope of its mobile apps in order to ensure potential consumers will still purchase its proprietary products, i.e. those released on Nintendo consoles. Put quite simply, if Nintendo were to create a full, genuine Animal Crossing product for mobile, it would seemingly decrease the likelihood casual fans would have to buy a new installment produced thereafter. Mobile products are constantly updated, something that is not true of traditional videogames.

Why no mobile Mario…?

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While Nintendo has a point about wanting to appeal to different types of consumers, it is arguably also missing the most basic variant it has: long term, loyal ones. Some “hardcore” Nintendo fansand development studios – have grown disappointed at the way the company has tried to introduce gimmicks into its products or hardware rather than simply making the games it is so good at.

Some years back Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros. 2 for its 3DS handheld. The game featured a full Mario product but also contained the ability to purchase stage “packs” that allowed for competitive high score runs. This business model would arguably work wonders on mobile, especially if players were given the freedom to design stages themselves, like in the Wii U game, Super Mario Maker. An unlimited, unending collection of Mario stages would mean players would keep paying so long as they were interested, and would serve to introduce the company’s most established franchises to a whole new audience.

Wrap Up

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While Nintendo may seek to have mobile as a third pillar of its business, only time will ultimately tell how it works in the long term. While new products like Miitomo and Animal Crossing may attract lots of users initially, unless they have some kind of key element to keep them hooked, the entire profit picture becomes jeopardized. There may come a point when the company has to confront the idea that it must forgo its traditional proprietary hardware and simply accept that times have changed.

What do you think? Are these two games good ideas, or are you more motivated for Mario or Zelda? Leave your comments below!