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

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
46,425
8,790



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.


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.

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

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,571
14,071
Central U.S.
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.
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2018
2,195
3,549
Earth
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.
Not just iOS gaming. Google Play is no better, it is no less depressing than the App Store.
 

ir_fuel

macrumors newbie
May 14, 2018
14
138
We can al say what we want, and I'd rather pay full price for a decent game (even if it is $30) than play for free and constantly being forced to pay microtransactions, but clearly "the market" wants this kind of games, and "the market" dictates what developers should make. The numbers don't lie unfortunately.
 

ikramerica

macrumors 6502
Apr 10, 2009
381
352
It absolutely tarnishes brands. When i see a cute licensed character attached to a greedy IAP game (one where very few bonuses are free), it makes me question what the IP owners were thinking. I dont mind if you gave to watch lots of ads for bonuses like snoopy pop. But watching an ad between every level and getting nothing for it like Angry Bird blast? Yikes...
 

ir_fuel

macrumors newbie
May 14, 2018
14
138
It absolutely tarnishes brands. When i see a cute licensed character attached to a greedy IAP game (one where very few bonuses are free), it makes me question what the IP owners were thinking. I dont mind if you gave to watch lots of ads for bonuses like snoopy pop. But watching an ad between every level and getting nothing for it like Angry Bird blast? Yikes...
Sure, for you, and me, and some other people on these forums. But clearly the masses couldn't care less.
 
  • Like
Reactions: haruhiko

ir_fuel

macrumors newbie
May 14, 2018
14
138
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
 

PlainBelliedSneetch

macrumors newbie
Oct 4, 2017
15
23
We can al say what we want, and I'd rather pay full price for a decent game (even if it is $30) than play for free and constantly being forced to pay microtransactions, but clearly "the market" wants this kind of games, and "the market" dictates what developers should make. The numbers don't lie unfortunately.
I think Mario Run would have done better if they had not made unlocking it an IAP.
 

repoman016

macrumors member
Mar 28, 2017
83
147
Ohio
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
 

repoman016

macrumors member
Mar 28, 2017
83
147
Ohio
Good. Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts should take notice. Although I'm not sure if it's possible to undo the tarnish these companies have created for themselves.
IMO I dont think they care. They continue to make millions regardless of the amount of people who dont like them
 

zubikov

macrumors regular
Sep 3, 2014
109
374
PA
Damage is already done. Wouldn't let my kid touch Nintendo's newest games; where you're constantly made to feel inferior for lack of in-app purchases, and where your gratification is directly tied to how much money you spend over time in the game. I know that most people don't care and mindlessly by IAP anyways. But for me, real joy of video games has to come from what happens in the game, and not in my wallet.
 

Alessiot

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2016
91
43
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?
Agreed I hate IAP it’s be cool if they let you try it for a set amount of time b4 buying but I only want to buy the game once not keep paying for IAP
 
  • Like
Reactions: DEXTERITY

laptech

macrumors 6502
Apr 26, 2013
305
392
Earth
"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."
This basically says it all. Developers want to charge as much as they can get away, using Nintendo's brand as a way to entice people to play and pay. If developers were not greedy with the in-app pricing, Nintendo would not have to take the action it is doing.
 

thisisnotmyname

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2014
2,234
4,628
known but velocity indeterminate
I think Mario Run would have done better if they had not made unlocking it an IAP.
That's not the kind of IAP I have a problem with. That model was trying to provide a trial version so people could experience a small portion before buying. The IAP style like Animal Crossing Pocket Camp (which is far from the most egregious but using a Nintendo example here) where timing and availability push you into buying leaf tickets over and over again, that's the problem. Mario Run was effectively a one time purchase, just delayed to IAP.

edit to add: ACPC was even pretty well done at first, the introduction of cookies as loot boxes caused me to drop the game.