Nintendo Asks Developer Partners to Cut Back on In-App Purchases for Fear of Tarnishing the Brand

Nearly four years to the day since Nintendo announced it would be bringing its popular characters to iPhone and iPad, the company is now fearing how app-based microtransactions could be tarnishing its brand. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo is going so far as to ask its developer partners to "adjust" its games so that players don't spend too much on in-app purchases.


One Nintendo official reiterated that the company uses its smartphone games to entice players into purchasing full-fledged console titles. Now, according to the unnamed official, Nintendo is concerned that it could be criticized for being greedy in the smartphone gaming market, ultimately hurting the company across divisions.

As for individual games, Nintendo's plan is already affecting certain titles. Dragalia Lost developer CyberAgent slashed its fiscal year earnings forecast for the first time in 17 years, reportedly due in part to the game's underperformance. Although it has a lot of players downloading and interacting with the app, "revenue from each player has fallen short of projections," seemingly tied to Nintendo's new strategy.
“Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game,” one CyberAgent official said. “If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”
For DeNA, the original smartphone developer partner with Nintendo, the mobile gaming business is said to be in a "slump." Chief Executive Isao Moriyasu reported last month that many of the company's mobile games were struggling except for an original title it created alone called "Megido 72."

Nintendo's smartphone gaming business has definitely seen its ups and downs. The company started with the debut of Miitomo in March 2016, introducing a social game where players could interact with their friends, dress up a custom Mii, and play mini games. After a lukewarm-to-negative reaction from players, Miitomo was shut down two years later in May 2018.

In December 2016, Nintendo debuted Super Mario Run for iOS devices, its first smartphone game with a major IP attached to it, and the first (and as of now only) full-priced Nintendo app. Nintendo returned to free-to-play with Fire Emblem Heroes in February 2017 and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in November 2017.

Over the years, many reports have attempted to dissect the success of each Nintendo app, and the consensus appears to be that Super Mario Run's pay-once structure has paled in comparison to the ongoing success of the free-to-play titles. In particular, Fire Emblem Heroes has been frequently touted as Nintendo's most successful mobile game to date, breaking the $500 million player spending mark on its two year anniversary, despite being based on an IP that's not quite as well known as Mario.

Despite the success of the free-to-play model and the confirmation that the next Nintendo games -- Dr. Mario World and Mario Kart Tour -- will be free-to-play, Nintendo has said that it prefers the payment structure of Super Mario Run to in-app purchases. Shigeru Miyamoto has echoed this week's report in the past, asking the gaming industry to stop "nickel-and-diming" players, and promising that Nintendo will continue pushing for pay-once mobile apps into the future.


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Nintendo’s ‘Fire Emblem Heroes’ Crosses $500M in Player Spending on Two-Year Anniversary

Further cementing its status as Nintendo's most successful mobile game to date, Fire Emblem Heroes has officially crossed the half-a-billion-dollar revenue mark, which it hit just after the two-year anniversary of its launch in early February 2017. The game's $500 million in player spending includes players on both iOS and Android (via Sensor Tower).


Fire Emblem Heroes is a free-to-play game that lets players spend real money inside the app once they download it. Most of Nintendo's apps have followed this structure, except Super Mario Run, which requires players to pay $9.99 to see the full game. In total, Fire Emblem Heroes has brought in "more than seven times the revenue" of Super Mario Run, and grossed more than twice the combined earnings of all of Nintendo's other mobile games, according to Sensor Tower.

To date these include Miitomo (now defunct), Super Mario Run, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost. Released just last September, Dragalia Lost has already become Nintendo's second most lucrative mobile game, surpassing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Super Mario Run.


In terms of platforms for Fire Emblem Heroes, players on Google Play/Android accounted for the majority of spending at 54 percent, while the iOS App Store made up 46 percent of player spending. Most players are located in Japan, which accounted for 56 percent of the game's $500 million total, while the United States is the game's second largest market at 31 percent of player spending.

Despite Super Mario Run performing poorly in comparison to the free-to-play games, Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that Nintendo will "continue pushing" for pay-once mobile games over freemium experiences. One senior official at Nintendo called the F2P structure of Fire Emblem Heroes as "an outlier" in the grand scheme of Nintendo's mobile strategy, claiming that Nintendo "prefers" Super Mario Run's payment model.

Despite this, Nintendo's next two mobile game releases will be free-to-play: Mario Kart Tour will launch this summer and Dr. Mario World is set to release later in 2019.


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Nintendo’s Next Mobile Game Will Be ‘Dr. Mario World,’ Developed in Partnership With LINE

Nintendo today announced that its next iOS and Android release will be Dr. Mario World, an action puzzle game set to be released later in 2019. Nintendo will be partnering with messaging app LINE to develop the new title.

Little detail is available on the new game at this time, but Dr. Mario was a 1990 puzzle game that tasked players with rearranging different colored pills as they fall to clear them off of the game board and eliminate viruses.



The gameplay of the original title was similar to Tetris, and it should translate well to mobile devices.

Nintendo says that Dr. Mario World will be free to play with in-app purchases, with Nintendo aiming to release the game in “early summer 2019” in Japan, the United States, and dozens of other countries.

Dr. Mario World may be Nintendo’s first game of 2019, as its other title, Mario Kart Tour, won’t be coming out until the summer. It was originally scheduled to launch right around March.

Nintendo has released five mobile games thus far, four of which have been free-to-play and three of which have been highly successful. Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost are current free-to-play titles, while Miitomo, Nintendo’s first mobile game, is now defunct. Nintendo’s only paid app so far has been Super Mario Run.

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Nintendo Delays Launch of ‘Mario Kart Tour’ Mobile Game Until Summer

Nintendo has announced that its upcoming Mario Kart Tour game for iOS devices won't be ready until the summer (via The Verge).


The news came in Nintendo's quarterly earnings report released today, exactly a year since the company first revealed it was bringing the game to smartphones.

Little is known about Mario Kart Tour, but the game was originally scheduled for launch before the company's fiscal year ending March 2019.

Nintendo said the decision to delay it had been made "in order to improve the quality of the application and expand the content offerings after launch."

When it eventually arrives, Mario Kart Tour is expected to use the same free-to-play model of other Nintendo mobile titles, with in-app purchases that help players with certain tasks.

Out of Nintendo's five mobile games so far, four have followed this model (Miitomo, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Draglia Lost). Only Super Mario Run has used the pay-once price tier.


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Nintendo’s Mobile Games Earned $348 Million in 2018

Nintendo earned approximately $348 million from its iOS and Android apps in 2018, according to new estimates shared this week by analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Player spending hit a new record of $117 million during the fourth quarter of 2018, a 47 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2017. Overall, Nintendo increased its earnings 15 percent compared to 2017.


Much of the money that Nintendo earned came from Fire Emblem Heroes, its most popular title. Fire Emblem Heroes accounted for approximately 66 percent of Nintendo's 2018 revenue, with more than $230 million spent in the game across the globe.

Since its debut, Fire Emblem Heroes has earned more than $487 million.

Though it is Nintendo's newest game, Dragalia Lost brought in an estimated $58.4 million worldwide, while Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which turned a year old in November, earned Nintendo $48.6 million during 2018.

Nintendo's original mobile game and first paid title, Super Mario Run, brought in just $10 million in 2018, down from $31 million in 2017.

In 2019, Nintendo plans to expand its portfolio of mobile titles with the launch of Mario Kart Tour, set to be released in March. Like Fire Emblem Heroes, Dragalia Lost, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Mario Kart Tour will be free to play and supported through in-app purchases.


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Nintendo Planning Major Update for Fire Emblem Heroes and ‘Broadening the Scope’ of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Nintendo this week held its financial results briefing aimed at the second quarter for the fiscal year ending in March 2019 (via Reuters), during which it discussed its smart device business and major updates coming to two of its iOS apps: Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Starting with Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo's director and president Shuntaro Furukawa said that the company is planning a major version 3.0 update to the iOS game that will arrive around the end of 2018. The president didn't divulge any more information on the update, but ensured that Nintendo will keep pouring effort into development and operation of Fire Emblem Heroes following its huge success on the iOS App Store.


According to Furukawa, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will also be updated in the near future, but this one will be focused on "broadening the scope of the gameplay." The iOS game is a pared-down version of the full games found on consoles like Nintendo 3DS, DS, Wii, and GameCube, and focuses on a small campsite that players can redecorate and customize to their liking, with a few other mini locations that can be visited through an in-game map.

Although details are still scarce, it sounds like Nintendo is planning to slightly expand the explorable area of the game with the update, and potentially add in new gameplay features. The company has consistently held new seasonal events and introduced new features -- like gardening -- over the past year, but its scope has largely stayed the same as when it first launched.

It's doubtful that this means Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will see a full village for players to navigate on iPhone, since Nintendo's mobile business so far has used the strategy of introducing a smaller version of its franchises to entice people to check out the full games on console.

Because of this, it's possible that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp's big update could align with the next mainline entry in the franchise on Switch, which is set for release in 2019. Furukawa did not detail when exactly we'll see the iOS update, but noted that "details will be announced closer to the time of the update," so it might not be until next year.

Lastly, the president confirmed that Mario Kart Tour is still on track to be released during the current fiscal year ending in March 2019. After Mario Kart Tour launches, Nintendo will have released six games on the iOS App Store: Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost.


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Nintendo’s New Dragalia Lost Game Earned $16 Million in Two Weeks

In the two weeks following the launch of Dragalia Lost, Nintendo's newest title, the game has earned $16 million in revenue from the iOS App Store and Google Play, according to estimates from app analytics site Sensor Tower.

$13.5 million of the $16 million in revenue has come from Japan and the United States, with the game now ranking third when it comes to revenue earned by Nintendo mobile titles.


During the first two weeks of availability, Fire Emblem Heroes earned $34 million, Super Mario Run earned $15.6 million, and Animal Crossing earned $9.8 million.

Dragalia Lost, unsurprisingly, is performing best in Japan. 69 percent of total revenue has come from Japan, while 16 percent has come from the United States. The remaining 15 percent has come from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.

Dragalia Lost is the 19th most popular iOS app in Japan at the current time, and the number 512th most popular app in Japan. In terms of revenue, it is ranked number 10 in Japan and number 62 in the United States.

Nintendo released Dragalia Lost two weeks ago on Thursday, September 27. The game is an original swipe-based action RPG developed in partnership with Cygames.

Dragalia Lost tasks players with conquering their enemies using powerful attacks and special skills, with players able to control characters who can transform into dragons to unleash their power on enemies.


In addition to battling monsters, players will also need to develop a holy citadel for dragon training. Limited time multiplayer raid battles are available for up to three players online, and an internet connection is required to play.

Like most of Nintendo's recent titles, Dragalia Lost is free to play and supported through in-app purchases.

Dragalia Lost can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Nintendo’s New iOS Game ‘Dragalia Lost’ Now Available

Nintendo's newest mobile game, Dragalia Lost, is now available on both Android and iOS devices in the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.

Dragalia Lost is an original action RPG that was developed by Nintendo and Japanese mobile game developer Cygames. In the swipe-based game, players are tasked with conquering their enemies using powerful attacks and special skills.


Players will control several characters who are able to transform into dragons to unleash their power on enemies. In addition to battling monsters, players will also need to develop a holy citadel for dragon training.

Limited time multiplayer raid battles are available for up to three players online, and an internet connection is required to play.

Nintendo has successfully launched several iOS games, including Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Super Mario Run.

Like Nintendo's most successful titles, Dragalia Lost is free to play and it is supported through in-app purchases.

Dragalia Lost can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Nintendo DS Game ‘Professor Layton and the Curious Village’ Coming to iOS App Store in U.S.

The iOS App Store Twitter account over the weekend revealed that the 2007 Nintendo DS game Professor Layton and the Curious Village will be making its way to the App Store in the United States in the near future (via Engadget). Japan received a port of the puzzle game on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store this past June.

Of course, with just a single tweet there isn't much additional information about the iOS release for the original Professor Layton game in the United States. Given that this will be a direct port of the game, it appears that Professor Layton and the Curious Village will not be one of Nintendo's mainline apps that are taking established characters and franchises and making them into mobile-friendly titles, like Super Mario Run and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.



That's because the puzzle-based gameplay of the Professor Layton games should already be an easy transition to smartphones. In the first game, players take on the role of Professor Layton and his young assistant Luke as they navigate around a small village named St. Mystere. Originally developed by Level-5 and published by Nintendo worldwide, the game is mostly centered on solving puzzles and brainteasers presented by characters around the village.

Since the first game, the Professor Layton series has seen numerous sequels over the years, with the last game coming out in 2017. That game, Layton's Mystery Journey, was the first sequel in the series to debut on mobile [iOS Direct Link] alongside the release on Nintendo 3DS. Otherwise, the original Professor Layton games had yet to make it to the iOS App Store before now.


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‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’ Reaches $50M Global Revenue, Which ‘Fire Emblem Heroes’ Achieved in 20 Days

Nintendo's latest smartphone app Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has just reached $50 million in player spending across iOS and Android globally, according to data tracked by Sensor Tower. It took the game 289 days to reach this goal, becoming the slowest of Nintendo's latest apps to do so.


Super Mario Run reached the $50 million mark 222 days after its release, while Fire Emblem Heroes achieved the $50 million milestone just 20 days after launching in February 2017. Fire Emblem Heroes has been called Nintendo and DeNA's "most successful mobile game" previously, and today's data cements the game's popularity.

At the one year mark, Fire Emblem Heroes had grossed $295 million worldwide, and as of August 2018 Nintendo has earned $400 million from the game. In a report earlier this week, Sensor Tower noted that Fire Emblem Heroes had grossed $63 million between the months of July and August 2018 alone, a 34 percent jump year-on-year. While it had a slow start, the game's free-to-play structure built on in-app purchases of items like "Orbs" help keep it a consistent earner for Nintendo and DeNA.


Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is also free-to-play and includes in-app purchases for "Leaf Tickets," which can be used to reduce timers, craft items without the necessary materials, and more. While the tickets can be earned through regular gameplay, they are also available to buy with real-world money on the App Store.

Still, the game has yet to match Fire Emblem Heroes' success, and Sensor Tower says that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has earned a majority of its revenue from players in Japan, while those in the United States have been far less interested in it:
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp revenue has largely come from players in Japan, who’ve contributed about 81 percent of the total it has earned to date. The United States is a distant second at about 14 percent. The majority of spending has been on iOS devices, at about 61 percent of revenue. It has been installed more than 25 million times so far.
Recently, Shigeru Miyamoto stated that Nintendo will "continue pushing" for its smartphone apps to adopt pay-once structures instead of being free-to-play, despite the breakout success of Fire Emblem Heroes. The only Nintendo app to release with a fixed price has been Super Mario Run, and Nintendo itself has admitted on numerous occasions that the game has failed its revenue expectations.

The next major Nintendo smartphone game based on an existing property will be Mario Kart Tour, and DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu in February reportedly described the kart racer as free-to-start. While vague, Nintendo uses similar terminology on Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp's website, but Moriyasu could also have been referring to Super Mario Run's structure, which allows users to download the game and play the first few levels for free before paying $9.99 to unlock the full game.

Before Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo and developer Cygames will launch the original action RPG Dragalia Lost for iOS and Android later this month, on September 27.


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