Nintendo Explains How It Will Stand Out in Crowded Mobile Game Market

Newly appointed CEO also explains the need to delay Nintendo's first mobile game, Miitomo.


Nintendo has addressed concerns regarding the saturated mobile game market, and discussed how it will apply its ethos of creating unique new gameplay experiences to its upcoming smartphone and tablet titles.

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Fielding questions in an Q&A with investors, newly appointed chief executive Tatsumi Kimishima was asked whether Miitomo, the first of five mobile games expected before March 2017, deviates from the company's core design values to place emphasis on communication and social networking.

"Although we have introduced Miitomo as a 'communication application,' we believe that it is a unique and Nintendo-like application in terms of the fact that it will encourage people who usually do not proactively share messages and information with others to enjoy a new type of communication by utilizing Nintendo’s IP called Mii," he replied.

Shinya Takahashi, manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development Division, described a positive response to Miitomo internally, saying people that played it found a "joy of discovering unknown aspects about their long-time colleagues whom they thought they knew very well."

"We believe that smart device users will enjoy Miitomo as we are offering Nintendo IP called Mii with which anyone can feel an affinity," he continued. "For our applications that will be enjoyed only on smart devices, we are creating ideas so that even those smart device users who do not usually play with applications can enjoy them."

Mario and The Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who was appointed Creative Fellow at Nintendo as part of its recent restructure, added that designers were aiming to take advantage of the unique capabilities of mobile devices to create fresh experiences, as it has done with consoles.

"Just as you mentioned, the situation of the smart device application market is that an enormous amount of titles exist and there are several established styles that are popular with users," he said. "If we can expand to smart devices what we have been challenging ourselves with on Nintendo’s dedicated game systems by taking advantage of the unique characteristics of smart devices, we believe that Nintendo will be able to create a new style of games and spread them all around the world."

Nintendo signed a deal with the global mobile games publisher DeNA in March 2015. As part of this, the two companies will collaborate on "new gaming applications featuring Nintendo IP, which [both companies] will develop specifically for smart devices."

In his response, Miyamoto also said DeNA's role in operating its games would allow Nintendo's designers to focus on “creating new things.”

He added: "While it is important for us to earn profits from our smart device business alone, our primary objective is to encourage smart device users to be interested in and to play with our dedicated video game systems, and we are focused on this goal."

Although Miitomo was initially targeted for launch this year, Nintendo announced in October that it would be pushed into 2016, citing the need for extra time to market the game as the cause for this. Further explaining this decision in the Q&A, Kimishima said the company wanted to focus on its core games market until the end of the year, before shifting some of its attention to Miitomo.

"Upon releasing an application, we believe it is necessary to communicate about the application at least about two months before its release in one way or another," he explained. If the application were to be released in December, it would already be the time to start communicating about the application.

"Considering our entire business, we have decided to focus our efforts in the dedicated video game business for our largest sales season coming up in December and then inform the public about our first application early in the New Year and release it in March 2016."

Although little information on Miitomo has been revealed, early indications suggests it will offer a socially driven experience similar to 3DS title Tomodachi Life. It will be free to play, with "attractive add-ons that people can pay for." Miitomo will also hook into the newly revealed My Nintendo and Nintendo Account services, details of which can be found by clicking this link.

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