At first, Nintendo games were all about rescuing princesses, racing go-karts and playing sports games. Surprisingly or not, the maker of Mario is now asking fans to go into a new direction: a surreal social network.
Nintendo launched its first smartphone app called Miitomo on Thursday in Japan – but don’t despair; the app will soon be released in other markets as well. However, seeing that the company is mostly known for its games, it’s a little peculiar to notice the distinctly social aspect.
This is how the app works. Users are asked some questions, such as their 10-year plans or what their favorite TV show is. According to Nintendo, the goal is to ask general queries that don’t usually come up in conversation.
Each user’s answers would then be delivered to friends by little Miis – the avatars Nintendo created for its Wii Sports, its most successful hit over the past decade.
Some say the first app released by the Japanese gaming company is, in fact, true to its 120-year history.
According to Rob Fahey, games industry analyst, “Nintendo came into this business as a toy company,” and the fact that they started making video games was because video games were the best toys they could think of. In a similar way, Miitomo is also a toy rather than a game, which means it fits with Nintendo’s vision.
But Miitomo is not the only app the company wants to release; four more will be launched on smartphones and tablets over the next year, as Nintendo tries to reach out to more users with less focus on dedicated game consoles.
At the same time, the apps should help Nintendo become relevant again. Sales of the popular 3DS handheld have been slowing as of recent while the Wii U failed to replicate the remarkable success of the original Wii.
Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said that “smart device apps [are] the key pillar for the company moving forward.”
From now on, Nintendo will be operating in four main areas: licensed merchandise, dedicated game consoles, smartphone apps, and partnerships like the collaboration with Universal Studios to build dedicated theme park areas for Nintendo characters.
Fils-Aime emphasized the difference between the offerings for Nintendo’s console and smartphone offerings. This is why the company adopted the free-to-play structure, allowing users to download Miitomo for free on iOS or Android.
Since Nintendo is still expected to gain some revenue from the new app, the company included optional in-app purchases. For example, players can dress up their Mii by buying different outfits.
Image Source: VG247