Last week, Nintendo announced that the next two games launching on iPhone and Android devices will be Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem related applications, but didn't speak much to its reasoning behind that decision. In a subsequent financial results briefing Q&A, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima gave some explanation as to why the company decided to prioritize these franchises as its next line of smartphone titles (via Engadget).
Kimishima began by stating that Nintendo chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem as the first two "real" game applications "from the viewpoint of increasing the diverse types of consumers interested in Nintendo, and widening opportunities for game play." Animal Crossing, specifically, will net the company a wider swath of player demographics considering its titles in the past have won over non-gamers with its trademark laid-back gameplay.
We chose Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem as titles to follow Miitomo from the viewpoint of increasing the diverse types of consumers interested in Nintendo, and widening opportunities for game play. The Animal Crossing series has been played by a wide range of consumers including children and women. I think there is a good chance that those consumers would enjoy this.
Interestingly, Kimishima appeared to somewhat dodge the initial question asked (Is Animal Crossing a title that places emphasis on the synergy with dedicated video game systems?), which is the main concern of some series fans as Animal Crossing transitions to mobile.
In the original announcement, Nintendo said the iPhone version of the game will somehow connect to a console-based game and that by playing both, "users will find increased enjoyment." It's still unclear whether this means Animal Crossing iOS will be a full-fledged title, or some kind of accessory experience, similar to series spin-offs like Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival.
The company's decision to introduce Fire Emblem onto mobile seems to be a move entirely focused on finally placating its "die-hard fans," who have been excited about the possibility of Nintendo games on smartphones since the announcement early last year. Still, no specific reason was given why Nintendo chose Fire Emblem over other similarly popular pure gaming franchises, like Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda, but most of that might lie in the company's fear of diluting such well known games onto a platform that's not yet proven it could work as a location of Nintendo's top-tier titles.
Kimishima reminded those at the briefing that, moving forward, there is no limit to the potential IPs used in its mobile games, so fans might see more recognizable characters before the fifth Nintendo app launches by March 2017.
As for Fire Emblem, it is not so much the width of the audience as the existence of die-hard fans who have stuck to the series for a long time. We selected two titles of different categories and IP to reach as many consumers as possible. We are not limiting the IP for the titles that will follow these two. We will continue to prepare titles using IP that many consumers are familiar with.
Kimishima also discussed the potential for in-app purchases in its upcoming applications, saying that the implementation of IAPs will essentially change on a game-by-game basis: if its player base is seen as possibly willing to spend more money, then the company will support the feature. Ultimately, Nintendo's president assured those who are apprehensive about its plan to delve into the smartphone application space by reiterating the company's current goal is "to grow smart device gaming as one of the pillars of Nintendo's revenue stream."
Top Rated Comments
Just give us Mario.
I always find it funny how MR people completely understand why Apple believes a top to bottom environment produces a better experience but lambast Nintendo for doing the same. Apple and Nintendo have surprisingly similar corporate cultures. (And they both struggle with online services!)
When I see articles saying "Why Animal Crossing or Fire Emblem over Mario or Zelda?" I find myself sighing. The reason is extremely obvious: user experience.
Mario's traditional format straight up doesn't work well on iOS. Try playing any NES games that have been released on iOS, like Capcom's Megaman games. It works very poorly. Or try playing it in an emulator. A controller is basically required, and mobile is really popular right now (particularly in Asia) because people like to whip out their phones briefly on the subway or in line etc.
Even the 3D Mario titles would play poorly. Zelda could be stretched to work ("Phantom Hourglass" style control scheme) but would still be an inferior experience with your finger obscuring the character (Zelda: PH was designed for stylus, and not that popular).
But Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem? These games are PERFECTLY suited for mobile. I am a very strong proponent of "the 3ds is a much better overall gaming platform than iOS for good quality games" (physical controls are just necessary for some genres), and Fire Emblem is one of the few games I really wish was on mobile because it'd be a good experience. It's a turn based strategy game and great to pop in and out of while you go about your day. Think Chess X Age of Empires with RPG elements.
Two weeks ago my wife, running through her first play through of Fire Emblem Awakening on 3ds, asked me why Nintendo hasn't released it on iOS yet because it was such an obvious fit. I had to explain how stubborn Nintendo is as a company about controlling its hardware set (like Apple) and that it would probably never happen. Boy do I feel sheepish!