Gamers anxiously awaiting a Mario game for their mobile phone or tablet won’t have to wait much longer. The company that practically invented the concept of handheld gaming will finally be creating games for third-party devices and while it might take some getting used to, the real winner is the fans.
Nintendo announced earlier this year that it would finally take the plunge and develop games for some of its biggest franchises on mobile devices. The iconic gaming company partnered with mobile developer DeNA to make five separate titles in the next two years. All five games are expected to be available by the spring of 2017. And now, the Japanese company has revealed more details concerning its upcoming mobile games. It announced that all of the planned games will be free-to-play, though they will support in-game microtransactions that will use real money.
Nintendo unveiled the first of the five games in October, and the project is called “Miitomo.” It’s a communication-based app designed to allow Nintendo fans to connect, share, and interact with one another using the lovable “Mii” avatars popularized by the Wii console. However, while some fans have worried that “Miitomo” means no Mario for mobile, Nintendo has assured its fans that it intends to make full use of its cast of characters.
During a Q&A session with investors earlier this year, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda) said that the key for the company going forward will be to take its success in the traditional console industry and replicate it for the mobile market.
“If we can expand to smart devices what we have been challenging ourselves with on Nintendo’s dedicated game systems by taking advantage of the unique characteristics of smart devices, we believe that Nintendo will be able to create a new style of games and spread them all around the world,” Miyamoto said.
Many traditional video game companies have been courting the mobile market, and that includes major players like Sega and Konami. Konami has gone one step further and also developed casino-style slot titles using some of its most popular franchises such as Castlevania and Silent Hill. Licensed titles are a good way to make sure that your game can stand above the pack. One example of this effective use of licensing for online titles can be seen with the variety of pop-culture themed games available that make use of everything from movies and TV shows to comic books and board games. These aren’t traditional games, per se, as they use themes from those media and adapt them to a casino-like setting. However, the companies that own said themes, such as Marvel and DC, are able to reach new fans through this take on licensing.
“Miitomo” was originally planned to be released at the end of 2015, but Nintendo was forced to to change its plans and announced that the game is delayed until March 2016. The announcement came with a sharp dip in the gaming company’s stock, but prices are steadily recovering from the initial reaction.
Only time will tell if Nintendo will find success on smartphones. But if the company plays its cards right, we could see Mario becoming bigger than Minecraft and Mickey Mouse combined.