In 2015, Nintendo partnered with mobile game developer DeNA in an effort to bring five games to mobile by March 2017. Only four have been released, with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp only releasing last month. In an effort to “raise the pace” of new mobile titles, Nintendo is reportedly looking to expand its mobile operations by collaborating with more developers.
According to The Wall Street Journal, one of the companies rumored for a partnership is GungHo Online Entertainment, the Tokyo-based developers of the Puzzle & Dragons mobile series. GungHo has also released versions of Puzzle & Dragons for the Nintendo 3DS and incorporated characters from the Mario franchise in one of them. It is also currently developing games for the Nintendo Switch.
In addition to new collaborations, Nintendo looks to be continuing its current partnership with DeNA. Its CEO Isao Moriyasu revealed in November that his company has more mobile games in development as part of the current Nintendo collaboration and he plans to continue that relationship.
Despite taking a 10 percent stake in DeNA in 2015, Nintendo isn’t planning to take additional ownership stakes in its new partners. The company will simply work in tandem with developers to produce the mobile games.
For a long time, Nintendo completely shunned smartphones, instead focusing on developing games for its own consoles. It wasn’t until the rapid growth of the global mobile game market that Nintendo finally felt the pressure to build its presence on smartphones.
During the fiscal year ending in March, Nintendo reported less than $176 million in revenue from its smartphone games. While this fell short of expectations, Nintendo executives are not looking to squeeze more revenue from the mobile games themselves. Instead, Nintendo hopes these games introduce and convert mobile gamers to the mainline console titles.
This cross-pollination already appears to be happening, with sales of Animal Crossing 3DS titles rising in the recent weeks after the release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on mobile devices. Pocket Camp packs a lot of the core Animal Crossing experience into a smaller, more streamlined package. We felt that the bright and cheery graphics make it easy to get hooked on.