Nintendo's first mobile game is already a big hit in Japan

Miitomo, which features a mix of gaming and social, is already the number two app in the country

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 18, 2016
Short URL:

Nintendo is a company that is currently in transition. Not only is it now under new leadership following the death of CEO Satoru Iwata last summer, but it is also dealing with the transition from console to mobile, something that Iwata resisted for too long.

On Thursday the company finally released its first mobile game, called Miitomo, in Japan, and if the early numbers are any indication, Nintendo should have no trouble transforming itself into a mobile gaming company.

The app has quickly shot up to the top of charts, according to data from App Annie. It is now not only the number one social networking app on iOS in Japan, it is the number two app overall. 

The only app above it, right now, is an app called GungHo Online Entertainment, which runs a game called Ragnarok Online.

Nintendo first unveiled Miitomo in October of last year. It works as a mix of gaming and social, with players creating avatars, called Miis. They can then meet up with other players, and use the platform to meet new people.

Miitomo is a result of Nintendo's partnership with DeNA, which is revealed in March of last year,  to set up a mobile game platform, as well as plans to develop smartphone games with Nintendo characters, including Super Mario. This was the last major act as of Iwata before he passed away from cancer.

Iwata's legacy is a mixed one. He is credited with helping sail Nintendo through a transitional period, when it was going up against consoles such as Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox, by releasing the Wii console and the handheld Nintendo DS.

The Wii has sold more than 101 million units in all, while Nintendo DS models have combined for over 154 million units sold, which makes it the best selling handheld game console of all time.

The company has struggled in recent years, though, as it went up against the rise of mobile gaming, an area that the company, and Iwata, were extremely late to catch on to. In 2012 the company saw its first annual loss in over thirty years. 

Including Miitomo, Nintendo plans to release approximately five smart device applications by the end of March 2017. Miitomo is a free-to-play game, along with some in-app purchases, while the other games that Nintendo develops with DeNA are rumored to be taking a pay-to-download model. 

Even with the success of Miitomo, and other mobile games on the way, I wouldn't count on Nintendo completely abandoning its console business. Earlier this month the company issued a press release in which it promised new games on the way for its Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems.

However, this does inject some life into a company that, not that long ago, looked like it may have found itself a relic from a bygone era.

(Image source:

Related news