Nintendo Asks Developer Partners to Cut Back on In-App Purchases for Fear of Tarnishing the Brand

Nearly four years to the day since Nintendo announced it would be bringing its popular characters to iPhone and iPad, the company is now fearing how app-based microtransactions could be tarnishing its brand. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Nintendo is going so far as to ask its developer partners to "adjust" its games so that players don't spend too much on in-app purchases.

animal crossing in app purchases
One Nintendo official reiterated that the company uses its smartphone games to entice players into purchasing full-fledged console titles. Now, according to the unnamed official, Nintendo is concerned that it could be criticized for being greedy in the smartphone gaming market, ultimately hurting the company across divisions.

As for individual games, Nintendo's plan is already affecting certain titles. Dragalia Lost developer CyberAgent slashed its fiscal year earnings forecast for the first time in 17 years, reportedly due in part to the game's underperformance. Although it has a lot of players downloading and interacting with the app, "revenue from each player has fallen short of projections," seemingly tied to Nintendo's new strategy.

“Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game,” one CyberAgent official said. “If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”

For DeNA, the original smartphone developer partner with Nintendo, the mobile gaming business is said to be in a "slump." Chief Executive Isao Moriyasu reported last month that many of the company's mobile games were struggling except for an original title it created alone called "Megido 72."

Nintendo's smartphone gaming business has definitely seen its ups and downs. The company started with the debut of Miitomo in March 2016, introducing a social game where players could interact with their friends, dress up a custom Mii, and play mini games. After a lukewarm-to-negative reaction from players, Miitomo was shut down two years later in May 2018.

In December 2016, Nintendo debuted Super Mario Run for iOS devices, its first smartphone game with a major IP attached to it, and the first (and as of now only) full-priced Nintendo app. Nintendo returned to free-to-play with Fire Emblem Heroes in February 2017 and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in November 2017.

Over the years, many reports have attempted to dissect the success of each Nintendo app, and the consensus appears to be that Super Mario Run's pay-once structure has paled in comparison to the ongoing success of the free-to-play titles. In particular, Fire Emblem Heroes has been frequently touted as Nintendo's most successful mobile game to date, breaking the $500 million player spending mark on its two year anniversary, despite being based on an IP that's not quite as well known as Mario.

Despite the success of the free-to-play model and the confirmation that the next Nintendo games -- Dr. Mario World and Mario Kart Tour -- will be free-to-play, Nintendo has said that it prefers the payment structure of Super Mario Run to in-app purchases. Shigeru Miyamoto has echoed this week's report in the past, asking the gaming industry to stop "nickel-and-diming" players, and promising that Nintendo will continue pushing for pay-once mobile apps into the future.

Top Rated Comments

macduke Avatar
33 months ago
This is what happens when you open Pandora's Box, Nintendo! Good luck closing it. At least they realize the damage to the brand and are trying to mitigate it. Apple saw a pile of money and didn't care and I feel like it has ruined iOS gaming for me. I don't play anything any more and I used to obsessively browse TouchArcade every day.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
33 months ago
Shigeru Miyamoto has echoed this week's report in the past, asking the gaming industry to stop "nickel-and-diming" players, and promising that Nintendo will continue pushing for pay-once mobile apps into the future.
Oh, Nintendo… I… I love you.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StellarVixen Avatar
33 months ago
I can stand "free games" with IAPs.


But when I see paid games with IAPs, I really start to wonder are those devs in their right minds?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jlseattle Avatar
33 months ago
Nintendo is winning me as a customer! I have the switch and it is great! Time for companies to stop microtransacting and monthly charging us to death!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ir_fuel Avatar
33 months ago
In the end we can all conclude that it's Apple's fault for coming up with the app store and the $.99 price model, where all of the sudden asking $5 for a game was considered theft, while before people had no problem shelling out multiples of that amount for a handheld console title. So developers look for other ways to make money, unfortunately
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
repoman016 Avatar
33 months ago
Just another predatory practice like a Casino. People get their dopamine hits every-time they click that button and get more gems, and if its not addicted adults, its kids who dont know any better. Only problem is they dont have the option to win their money back. Instead they win pixels.
I have a friend who has spent thousands on things like Pokemon go and brawl stars and it makes me sick.
+1 Nintendo
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
it home ecommerce app iphone 13

iPhone 13 to Launch on September 17, AirPods 3 on September 30, Claims Report

Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:42 am PDT by
Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 13 on Friday, September 17 and third-generation AirPods on Thursday, September 30, according to an image of an e-commerce app discovered by Chinese language site IT Home. The screenshot, originally posted by Weibo account @PandaIsBald, suggests all four iPhone 13 models will go on sale on September 17, followed by the AirPods 3 on September 30....
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
ulysses Blog Publishing

Ulysses 22 Brings New Blogging Options and Visual Customizations

Monday March 22, 2021 5:24 am PDT by
Popular writing app Ulysses today received its 22nd major release, introducing new publishing features and additional options for users to customize the visual appearance of their writing environment. As well as providing a focused writing environment, Ulysses offers ways to publish texts from within the app to various blogging platforms. Version 22 adds the ability to publish to Micro.blog, ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...