If in the past, Nintendo looked with caution at the mobile gaming segment, now the situation is different. The Japanese game company crossed over $1 billion in revenue from its mobile games for Android and iOS. According to a report from SensorTower, this is largely carried by the popular free-to-play Fire Emblem Heroes. Since its launch in 2017, the game amassed $656 million in revenue. It is more than every other Nintendo Mobile Game combined.
Fire Emblem Heroes is the jewel of Nintendo Mobile
Fire Emblem Heros is a “gacha” game, where players spend in-game items to randomly pull new characters with different abilities, items, and stats. It’s a different approach them what we see in games like Fortnite. For instance, you can buy new character skins outright or earn them over time through a Battle Pass. When it comes to Fire Emblem Heroes prizes are distributed randomly. So you may get a rare character you’re hoping for your first pull. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend hundreds of dollars on thousands of pulls to never get what you want.
Developer Intelligent Systems constantly adds new and increasingly powerful characters. There are some limited characters or season-themed ones. The continuous support helps the game to keep a continuous and constant stream of revenue.
Super Mario Run, otherwise, has been a major disappointment
That represents a major contrast to Nintendo’s first mobile experiment, Super Mario Run. The game promised a reimagined Mario experience specifically designed for a smartphone. We have to say, the game is cool and all, but it can’t be compared to classic Mario games. And it’s not very addicting like other Mario-related games such as Super Mario Maker. It will never generate the same revenue since it offers a single upfront $9,99 purchase instead of the constant revenue of games like Fire Emblem Heroes or Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. The latter is Nintendo Mobile’s second top earner. While Super Mario Run hit over 200 million downloads, Nintendo determined that it was a “disappointment”.
Despite the micro-transactions, Fire Emblem Heroes is a good game. It successfully translates the tactical combat of the mainstream console games to a smaller, quicker format to play on the go. It comes with enjoyable gameplay and for that reason is a huge success. We can only imagine how a serious Mario game, or even Legend of Zelda game could perform in the mobile segment if Nintendo gives them proper treatment.
Mario Kart Tour may become the company’s second hit
Apparently, the firm is doing the homework, or at least, has done. Mario Kart Tour successfully translates the gameplay to a mobile-friendly format. Moreover, it adds gacha elements on top of a nearly endless revenue stream. The bet is already paying off since Mario Kart Tour was the most downloaded game on iOS last year. The game already surpassed Super Mario Run and is gearing up to become another of Nintendo Mobile hits.