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."

Article Link: Nintendo 'Retreating' From Mobile Gaming Market
 
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GermanSuplex

macrumors 65816
Aug 26, 2009
1,024
15,603
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.
 

Pirate!

macrumors member
Jan 17, 2017
67
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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.
 

FaustsHausUK

macrumors 6502
Mar 11, 2010
320
382
Chicago, IL
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.
Honestly, I loved Mario Kart for the most part - once you get used to that weird control scheme, it opens up. I had unlocked so many different drivers, karts and gliders that I did well in most races. There were a few frustrations, like the difficulty suddenly spiking on the most random of races, and those horrible "giant racer" challenges, but mostly I enjoyed it. I got burned out after a few months and uninstalled.

I wish they had put deeper games out for the most part, though. The Apple TV was begging for some Virtual Console games with MFi support. Putting the pre-GameCube Super Mario titles out again would hardly cannibalise anything, given their massive historical sales.
 

magbarn

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2008
2,282
1,388
aye, the switch is doing very well... easy to see why they would take this course
Apple's latest SOCs blow away the Switch's outdated Tegra CPU/GPU. Nintendo would actually have superior hardware if they went iOS for their latest games.

I think they want to avoid Sega's fate...

EDIT: What I meant above is Nintendo is holding back from making more releases on iOS BECAUSE they want to avoid Sega's fate as only making games and no longer being a big player. Not saying they will end up as Sega.
 
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yellow8

macrumors regular
Mar 14, 2017
160
106
I think the problem is not Nintendo, its the controlling of a game with an iPhone that does not convince everyone. Me first.
 
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haydn!

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2008
1,017
977
UK
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.
 

gotluck

macrumors 603
Dec 8, 2011
5,646
1,045
East Central Florida
Apple's latest SOCs blow away the Switch's outdated Tegra CPU/GPU. Nintendo would actually have superior hardware if they went iOS for their latest games.

I think they want to avoid Sega's fate...
Nintendo isn't really about graphics or the latest tech.

The controller is the real problem with iOS, IMO. If they were to require a controller to even play the game perhaps iOS could catchup, but it would be hard to match the switch's controller performance.

Nintendo is arguably doing better than xbox and PS, comparing them to sega is a bit much.
 

senttoschool

macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2017
180
248
Apple's latest SOCs blow away the Switch's outdated Tegra CPU/GPU. Nintendo would actually have superior hardware if they went iOS for their latest games.

I think they want to avoid Sega's fate...
Two things:
1. Switch has buttons, which are crucial to more complex games than candy crush.
2. Nintendo doesn't have to pay 30% of revenue to Apple
 

bernoulli

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2018
50
149
England
Apple's latest SOCs blow away the Switch's outdated Tegra CPU/GPU. Nintendo would actually have superior hardware if they went iOS for their latest games.

I think they want to avoid Sega's fate...
Sure, but can it sustain the performance for up to 9h without overheating. Moreover, can you play tabletop mode with 2 or more players without touch controls?
 
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Xenomorph

macrumors 65816
Aug 6, 2008
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553
St. Louis
Miitomo was still my favorite game of theirs, and that's the only one that they killed.

Super Mario Run was great, until I got all the stars. An endless run mode of the same repeating stages gets old.

Dr. Mario stages just got too weird and way too hard the more I went on. It's no fun trying and retrying the same stage 20 times in a row, knowing there is no way to win with skill. It ends up just being a game of chance, unless you pay. Just one blue virus to kill and the game keeps giving me yellow pills? Imagine that! Multi-player also seemed to lack skill. Every multiplayer game seemed to go to whoever got lucky with slapping the right colors in place the quickest, without any time to think. It just isn't fun.
 

ChrisMoBro

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2016
515
2,081
Why bother with mobile phone gaming when you own mobile console gaming and pretty soon console gaming too ? 57 million and counting....
Console gaming too? Another 50 million and that statement will be true but it’s very unlikely to catch up with the PS4.
 

mnsportsgeek

macrumors 68020
Feb 24, 2009
2,120
1,712
Nintendo isn't really about graphics or the latest tech.

The controller is the real problem with iOS, IMO. If they were to require a controller to even play the game perhaps iOS could catchup, but it would be hard to match the switch's controller performance.

Nintendo is arguably doing better than xbox and PS, comparing them to sega is a bit much.
Nintendo's problem is every other console after N64 is a dud.

N64 - Win
Gamecube - Loss
Wii - Win
Wii U - Loss
Switch - Win

We'll see what happens next. Logic would indicate that you just beef up the Switch for next-gen, but Nintendo always seems to try something new and waste a generation when it flops.
 
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jrlcopy

macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2007
466
266
I will say, my bosses that have now bought a switch, and have now bought animal crossing. Started playing it on the mobile version on iOS. Had that not existed, chances are they wouldn't have bought a switch and they wouldn't have bought the game.

I do hope they figured out a way to look at their audience and how many sales, the mobile game has given them.
 

DrMonk

macrumors newbie
Oct 1, 2015
5
1
Nintendo instead has to pay itself in order to subsidize the hardware they're selling at a loss. 30% is what all of the console makers charge. No free lunch.
Nintendo has never sold its consoles at a loss (3DS was a close call after the early price drop), and certainly didn't sell Switch at a loss, even from launch (this is in stark contrast to the other console manufacturers).
I am actually quite surprised by this. I agree Mario Run was the best game (and ironically of the batch one of the least profitable for them). I guess I'm surprised because the other games (like Fire Emblem and Dragalia) were highly profitable for them, and although Switch is killing it I didn't think they would just give up on that market when growth is still larger on that side of the gaming market.
 
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