Mobile gaming appeals to developers since it is a huge market that can reach a wide audience, host a number of different genres, and be sold at cheaper prices than most console titles. It’s no wonder the gaming titan Nintendo has decided to expand into the platform. Many suggest this signals a shift in Nintendo’s focus that could potentially lead to the decline of home console games. I disagree.
Nintendo’s been focusing on mobile games, that’s true. Miitomo updates and the upcoming Super Mario Run are proof of this, alongside announcements for Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games. There’s no doubt that Nintendo is tapping into this market, which is a decent strategy for the company, but the popularity and hype around Super Mario Run doesn’t mean Nintendo will drop everything else to create freemium phone games. There are two main arguments that support this reasoning.
The company is known for their home consoles, building years of experience developing engaging and memorable titles for these systems, and understands that there is still a huge demand for this style of gaming. When the NES mini released, it sold out on the first day. That’s how much people enjoy home consoles. The Nintendo Switch, which features a mobile option, will most likely be played at home rather than on the go due to the layout of the system and the possible games it will have. If Nintendo were to abandon any focus on console games and systems, it would only serve to alienate long-time fans who might be hesitant to try the mobile games.
There’s also the likelihood that the mobile games Nintendo releases will not be as extensive or content-packed as their console counterparts. Super Mario Run itself seems to have an automatic run mode where all you do is tap the screen to jump and Miitomo is more of a social media app. It doesn’t seem likely that any mobile game the company makes in the near future will be full-length games, along the lines of Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon.
I can, however, see the mobile games as a form of integration between the mobile platform and home gaming. The apps could be tie-ins or similar to DLC, providing a preview of the gameplay or extra content for the main titles.
For example, the Fire Emblem app could show off the tactical aspects of the franchise. Being free would mean more people could get an inside look into how the game would function without having to spend a lot on a game they may not enjoy. In another way, the Animal Crossing app could include a feature where stopping near certain locations would reveal a downloadable item that could be transferred to the main game. There’s a huge possibility to how the platforms could work together to enhance the Nintendo franchises.
Nintendo’s always been a bit odd, doing and creating weird things other companies on the same level wouldn’t at the time. They’ve expanded into new territories before: 3D, interactive figurines, motion controlled-games, a home/mobile hybrid console. Overall, Nintendo knows what works, what’s safe, and what makes money. There’s always going to be a demand for console games that push the limits of what gaming can do. Expanding into a mobile platform isn’t the end; it’s just something new, something extra.