Nintendo’s first smartphone game is probably not what you were expecting

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Miitomo: Nintendo puts its game face on.

Nintendo unveiled its first smartphone game and it’s left some people scratching their heads. Nintendo said yesterday that its first mobile application would be called Miitomo, clearing up a mystery that has gripped the videogame industry since the company earlier this year said it would make the leap to smartphones. An official statement by Nintendo indicated the delay came from wanting “to further improve the Miitomo application.” Miitomo is officially described as “a free-to-start communication application that helps friends share fun personal facts and interests.” Players will be able to communicate with other players, answering questions and “sharing information to discover more about each other” while creating their own Mii avatars, which were first introduced on the Wii. My Nintendo (initially revealed as Nintendo Account) profiles will give players a unified presence across Nintendo platforms and smartphones, and allow users to log in using their social network accounts. Nintendo said it was creating a new membership service, called “Nintendo Account”, to connect users of its hardware as well as PCs and mobile devices.

My Nintendo also functions as the replacement for the rewards system Club Nintendo, allowing players to earn points for playing and purchasing games that can than be used to purchase digital goods, actual physical Nintendo merchandise, or obtain discount coupons. After revenue and profits stumbled in recent years, it reversed course in March, announcing a partnership with DeNA, which develops games and operates a mobile game platform. This time, Nintendo’s hand was forced by a big change in the game-playing market, with smartphone games cutting into the traditional console-based gaming audience. Analysts are divided on Nintendo’s prospects, with some saying the advent of smartphone gaming could unleash new revenue streams, while others say the company is coming to the table too late.

That is a different business model from console games, which are generally bought as packaged software, either in stores or from online services. “One of our major concerns about all this mobile gaming-related excitement is that we don’t know how long these huge number of free mobile games being released can be sustained by in-game content sales as total sales become ever more diluted across more and more titles,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, head of Japan equity sales at BGC Partners. The challenge facing Nintendo was underscored by its latest earnings report, on Wednesday, in which the company’s profit for the six months to the end of September fell short of analyst expectations, held back by sluggish sales of the Wii U console and 3DS hand-held devices.

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