Nintendo unveils Miitomo, its mobile game coming in March

Steven Loeb · October 29, 2015 · Short URL:

Miitomo is almost a communication app, where users create avatars and then talk to people

As it was reported earlier in the day, Nintendo did indeed unveil its first ever mobile game during a presentation from CEO Tatsumi Kimishima in Tokyo early Thursday morning. There were, however, a few surprises in store.

First, the details: the game is called Miitomo and the way it works is that players create avatars, called Miis. The game has a strong social component, where players can meet up with each other, and user the platform to meet new people.

"Looks like Miis go ahead and communicate with other Miis without your knowledge. This will help people who are hesitant to talk about themselves to communicate with others, and reveal a side of your friends you never knew," Kimishima is quoted as saying.

So there's the first surprise, that Nintendo has designed its first game outside any of its classic franchises, like Super Mario Bros., which may have helped to draw in users. Those, Kimishima, are likely coming down the line at a later date.

Here's the second: the company had originally said that it would release its first game by the end of this year, and that it planned to have five in total by March of 2017. That has gone out the window now, as Miitomo is coming out in March of next year.

So why the delay? Because Nintetendo has decided that it needed more time to fully promote and explain the game. Plus, the company is busy promoting other titles in the pipeline right now, so promotion Miitomo will start early next year.

Miitomo is a result of Nintendo's partnership with DeNA, which is revealed in March, 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 former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata before he passed away from cancer earlier this year.

While Miitomo will be a free-to-play, along with some in-app purchases,the other games that Nintendo develops with DeNA may be pay-to-download.

Iwata had been resistant to putting the company's classic characters onto mobile, and, as a result, it has struggled in recent years. In 2012 the company saw its first annual loss in over thirty years and it just yesterday reported an operating profit for the first half of its fiscal year for the first time in five years. 

Nintendo recorded an operating profit of ¥8.98 billion (or $74.6 million), as compared to a loss of ¥215 million a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting an operating profit of ¥14.4 billion.

Still earnings fell short of analyst expectations, as momentum for the company’s aging consoles, including the Wii U and 3DS hand-held devices, have begun to sag. 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, but both have been on the market now for years.

The fact that Nintendo is putting out a mobile game, even though it doesn't have any bankable characters, and even though it is being delayed, is a really big deal.

In addition to that news, Nintendo also revealed it is creating a new membership service, called “Nintendo Account,” that will connect users of its hardware, as well as PCs and mobile devices. It said it would use a cloud-based service to transfer data between mobile games and console games.

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