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."