Why Nintendo Chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem for Next Smartphone Games

"We selected two titles of different categories and IP to reach as many consumers as possible."

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Last week, Nintendo announced that it was adding to its smartphone game lineup with new Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem titles. Some might have thought Mario, Donkey Kong, or Zelda would come first, given their mass appeal. So how did it decide on those franchises in particular?

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As part of a Q&A session following Nintendo's latest earnings report, the English translation of which was published today, Kimishima explained his line of thinking.

"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," he said. "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."

As for Fire Emblem, Kimishima said this franchise may not be as mainstream as Animal Crossing. However, Nintendo is moving forward with it in an attempt to connect with the franchise's "diehard fans."

"We selected two titles of different categories and IP to reach as many consumers as possible," Kimishima explained about Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem.

Details are light at the moment regarding the gameplay for the new games, but it's been confirmed that they will 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.

Kimishima also teased that future Nintendo smartphone games will include characters that "many consumers are familiar with." In addition, he mentioned that Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto is currently holding "specific talks" with the developers at DeNA to determine "what would be desirable."

Nintendo's first smartphone game, Miitomo, was released worldwide in March and has now reached 10 million downloads. Kimishima also said in his remarks this figure is "very balanced" in terms of gender, though there was a "slightly higher" ratio of women at the beginning. The company will not share statistical data such as the number of daily active users, Kimishima said. Those interested in learning how many people are playing Miitomo and how much money it's making can visit sites like App Annie (though he did not mention this site by name). Kimishima said the numbers on these kinds of ranking sites for Miitomo are not "too far off from reality."

Kimishima also mentioned that the gameplay in Nintendo's smartphone titles will vary, and as such, some games may be more profitable than others. For Miitomo, he said money from microtransactions is "growing more or less as expected."

Speaking more generally about Nintendo's smartphone gaming endeavors, Kimishima stressed that people should understand Nintendo is aiming for its smartphone business to eventually become a core "pillar" of the company's operations.

A total of five smartphone games from Nintendo are due to launch by 2017. These games, all of which will be free-to-start, are being produced under the guidance of longtime Mario Kart producer Hideki Konno. The Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games are scheduled to come out this fall.

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