Nintendo’s foray into the world of mobile gaming is as interesting as it is confusing. The titles that the company has released so far rely on different approaches for monetization, and some of them have not resonated too well with certain users (Super Mario Run, anyone?). Fortunately, there seems to be a method to this madness, and Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima recently revealed what is the desired effect from the endeavor.
In an interview with Time Magazine, Mr. Kimishima discussed the strategic importance of Miitomo, Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem: Heroes. Each of the three games were elaborate experiments with different objectives. The 18 million downloads of Miitomo proved that Nintendo characters are interesting to the mobile audience, while the vastly different monetization techniques in Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem: Heroes were used to determine the best way for gaining income from users.
The results from these “probes” have been encouraging – Super Mario Run has been downloaded 78 million times on iOS, bringing in $53 million in the process. As you may know, the game doesn’t have ads or in-app purchases, but does require a $10 unlocking fee for any player that wants to go past its third level. As for how many people actually committed to the purchase, Tatsumi Kimishima said:
With regards to how many people have paid money, we’re hoping for more than 10%, and while we haven’t yet reached 10%, at this point we’re somewhere north of halfway there. However, if you analyze this, it’s pretty interesting. The game is being distributed in more than 150 countries, but it’s the top 20 countries that account for more than 90% of the total revenue. If we look further at the people who are paying for the game within those 20 countries, we’re not at 10%, but the number is rising.
This relatively high asking price has been described as a viable way to do business by Kimishima, but he also added that it is a “new way of monetization” that is yet to become popular.
Speaking of popular, the all too familiar “free-to-play plus in-app purchases” model has been the way to go for Fire Emblem: Heroes. 8 days after its release, the game has raked in $5 million for the Kyoto-based company.
As a result of these experiments, Nintendo has gained valuable experience and confidence in its efforts to become a major competitor on the mobile scene.
The overall ambitions for Nintendo’s mobile business were also discussed in the interview. Kimishima explained that there are three main goals. The first is to push the company’s IP to a large new audience that may not have experienced its ecosystem before. Secondly, Nintendo wants to make its mobile business a “pillar in and of itself,” alongside its consoles and games. The last goal is to create a type of synergy by using mobile gaming to increase the sales of other titles that have the same characters.