Nintendo’s historic venture into the mobile market has been a big success by many measures, but not the cash cow some were expecting. Games like Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp have certainly been popular, but The Big N has struggled to properly monetize them (mobile was only responsible about 5 percent of the company’s revenue in 2017). So, is the notoriously bottom-line-conscious Nintendo going to stick with the mobile market long term?
According to The Wall Street Journal, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Word is, Nintendo is less interested in the profitability of their mobile games, than in bringing their franchises to a wider audience. The hope is, some of the hundreds of millions who download games like Super Mario Run on iOS and Android can be convinced to buy full-price games on the Switch and 3DS.
In order to reach as many new potential customers as possible, Nintendo is reportedly planning to expand and diversify their mobile output by partnering with new publishers. Up until now, all Nintendo mobile games (minus Pokemon Go, which they only have a partial stake in) have all been released in partnership with Japanese mobile publisher DeNA, but that exclusivity could soon end.
Nintendo is said to be negotiating with mobile publisher GungHo (Puzzle & Dragons, Ragnarok Online) and is working on releasing their mobile games in China through publisher Tencent. Neither GungHo or Tencent have confirmed these reports. The Nintendo-DeNA relationship will also continue, with more unannounced games in the pipeline.
What kind of mobile games could we see from Nintendo in the future, and who might they partner with? A Zelda game seems like an obvious fit, and I think a conversion of Mario Maker could be a big hit. Speaking personally, I’d love to see a mobile WarioWare revival – that series always felt like it was made to be played on your phone. What new Nintendo mobile games would you like to see?