Nintendo 'Retreating' From Mobile Gaming Market

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It's been five years since Nintendo first announced its foray into mobile gaming on iOS and other platforms. Although the company has seen some success in the business, it's also seen some misfires, and this week Bloomberg is reporting that Nintendo is now "retreating" from its mobile gaming plans.

For the near future, Nintendo will now focus on apps that have already been released. In terms of potential new Nintendo apps, developer partner DeNA has mentioned recently that players shouldn't expect a new game until near the end of the current fiscal year.


Although Nintendo saw high profits with titles like Fire Emblem Heroes, the company's recent earnings have been declining. In total, Nintendo released iOS apps like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Dragalia Lost, Mario Kart Tour, Super Mario Run, and Dr. Mario World from 2016 through 2019.

According to Sensor Tower, three of Nintendo's biggest apps saw decreasing revenue from February through May, 2020 (including Dragalia Lost, Super Mario Run, and Fire Emblem Heroes). This was during a period when mobile apps were otherwise noticing an uptick in user engagement due to stay-at-home orders.

In the beginning, Nintendo kicked off the smartphone gaming initiative following struggling Wii U console sales, hoping that the booming mobile gaming market could help prop up poor console numbers. In the wake of the success of the Nintendo Switch, a mobile/home console hybrid released in 2017, it seems that Nintendo has less of a reason to keep up with releasing games for smartphones and tablets.

Most recently, "Animal Crossing New Horizons" on the Switch has seen massive success. In May, the game became the best-selling entry in the franchise with 13.4 million units sold, and is the fastest selling Switch game overall.

Mobile games are expected to make $77.2 billion this year, which would account for half of the overall video game industry’s sales, according to research from Newzoo. But “since the release of Mario Kart Tour in fall 2019, Nintendo’s mobile pipeline is empty,” said Serkan Toto, a mobile games consultant in Tokyo. “In a sense, Nintendo’s enormous success on console reduced the need and the pressure to put resources into mobile.”

Nintendo originally intended to launch around three apps per year, but they were continuously delayed and players saw longer and longer wait times between releases for new games. When they did finally launch, many arrived with criticisms about an abundance of in-app purchases and poor controls.

Now, according to mobile gaming analyst Serkan Toto, new Nintendo smartphone games will come down the line, "but it's very likely these will be just alibi releases to appease shareholders."

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
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12 weeks ago
Mario Kart was a shameful excuse for a Nintendo game. Both gameplay wise and business model wise. Could’ve been great but turned out one of the worst game I’ve ever played.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago
Why bother with mobile phone gaming when you own mobile console gaming and pretty soon console gaming too ? 57 million and counting....
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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12 weeks ago
Mario Run was ok. The rest I couldn’t bother with. Mario Kart was laughably bad, I thought, for a brand that prides itself on quality.

I was hoping Nintendo was going to make mobile gaming what it should have been before pay as you play won out. Instead, they offered half-baked attempts and eventually just went all in on the pay to play model.

Im sad they didn’t change the market, but I won’t miss the games. I will miss what could have been instead.


There are some mobile games i enjoy, but it’s a shame it hasn’t taken off the way I expected. I was hoping for PSP or DS quality games with an Apple Branded controller. Oh well. Some day, someone is going to crack the mobile gaming market and make games that are both profitbale and high quality. Most games are only the former, and rarely both.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago
I’d be happy to pay a one-time fee for their games. I was fine with $10 for Mario Run. I’d pay $15-20 for Mario Kart Tour. But the $5/mo plus expensive (which I get is subjective) IAP are a bit crazy IMO. At some point not everyone can be on a subscription model, at least I hope.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago
Super Mario Run was fun, for the first few weeks. But since it launched, they’ve added no new levels, except the repetitive remix 10 game. And considering it only has 24 levels it got very boring, very quickly.

They instead should have gone with a modern take on Super Mario 3 with tonnes of levels and variation instead of a quick win arcade game.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago
The switch is crushing it, no need to cannibalize sales.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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