The House of Mario is laying out its plans for making the leap to iPhone and Android, but it’s going to need more time.
The new Nintendo
During a meeting with investors in Kyoto, the publisher revealed it will not have a new smartphone game before the end of this calendar year (via Wall Street Journal). Instead, it will launch the app, called Miitomo, by March 2016 — and it hopes to make that a global release. It’s a free-to-play game with microtransactions.
The mobile market has been eagerly awaiting more news on Nintendo’s plans. It has struggled with the stumble of its flagship Wii U console, but it could disrupt the $30 billion mobile market thanks to the quality of its games and a devoted following in Japan, one of the biggest regions for spending on smartphones and tablets.
Nintendo chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima explained that the concept behind Miitomo is to facilitate communication between people using Miis. Your Mii avatar, which represents you on the Wii U home console’s and 3DS handheld’s online networks, will even go and communicate with others while you are not actively playing. It sounds like a mobile version of the 3DS surprise hit Tomodachi Life, which you can read more about here in our review.
This is just the first of five games coming to mobile from Nintendo by March 2017. The publisher is developing the apps in partnership with Japanese publisher DeNA, which is handling the back-end tools. Of these first five games, Nintendo has also confirmed that it will not try to port its existing controller games to a touchscreen. So expect new ideas and mechanics combined with established characters.
Kimishima also said that Nintendo has a slate of unannounced games for this holiday for the Wii U and 3DS.
Nintendo is turning to mobile games as a way to give its revenues a boost. It has seen its income and profits shrivel over the last half decade as both its home and portable hardware and software fail to catch on with consumers. That’s because gamers are more frequently choosing to spend time with their smartphones, especially in the company’s home market in Japan.
In March, former Nintendo chief executive Satoru Iwata, who died in July, announced that he would guide the company into the mobile-gaming market. At the same time, Iwata promised to stay with the hardware business with a new platform code named the NX.
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