Nintendo entered the mobile gaming space a few years ago with the social app Miitomo, followed by more traditional gaming experiences like Super Mario Run and the smash hit Fire Emblem Heroes. The company is counting on continued success with mobile exclusives, and under new president Shuntaro Furukawa, it plans to turn them into a nearly $1 billion business.
Speaking to Nikkei, Furukawa — who will replace retiring president Tatsumi Kimishima — said that he expects mobile games to “expand the most” when compared to the company’s other divisions, and that Nintendo believes it can bring in around $910 million. It’s an enormous figure, but it isn’t unreasonable when looking at the data. Fire Emblem Heroes, which is free to play but features fairly extensive microtransaction options, made nearly $300 million in its first year. This is compared to the roughly $60 million of profit Nintendo saw with Super Mario Run, which used a one-time fee model to give players the full list of stages.
“The idea that something will emerge that transforms into something big, in the same manner as game consoles, is the defining motive of the Nintendo business,” Furukawa said in the interview, though he stressed that the company didn’t expect any of its games to become a hit on the scale of Pokémon Go.
Nintendo fans shouldn’t worry about this move signifying a shift away from traditional console games, however. The Switch managed to pass lifetime sales of the Wii U in less than a year on the market, and the October release Super Mario Odyssey has already managed to sell more than 10 million copies — substantially more than Mario Kart 8, the best-selling game on the Wii U.
Thus far, the year has been a little bit quiet for Nintendo, which has yet to release a Switch game on the same scale as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey. The old-school role-playing game Octopath Traveler releases in July and looks quite impressive, but eyes are set to later in 2018, when Nintendo plans to release the next Super Smash Bros. game. More information will be given at the company’s E3 presentation in June.
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