Nintendo’s seen a lot of success with its recent free-to-play titles – Pokémon Shuffle for the 3DS has been downloaded over two million times, and Pokémon Rumble World looks like it’ll do similar numbers – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With its expansion into mobile, Nintendo’s tapping into a newer, and much larger market – and if DeNA’s top executive is to be believed, the company’s jumping in with both feet.
While speaking at Pocket Gamer Connects, DeNA CEO Shintaro Asako said that his company is helping Nintendo develop five different mobile games, the first of which will be out before the end of 2015. The others will arrive by April, 2017. Each game belongs to a different genre, and features a different Nintendo IP, in order to appeal to the widest audience possible; as Asako said, “We want to make sure out of those five IP that we can end up attracting hundreds of millions of people.” He later elaborated, “I understand some people like RPGs, casual games. That’s why we decided to work together to create five games, hitting on different genre-utilizing IPs.”
Nintendo announced its partnership with DeNA in March, although details have been fairly sparse since then. Previous reports indicated that Nintendo is handling the bulk of the development on its mobile titles, with DeNA acting as back-up. At Pocket Gamer Connects, Asako implicitly confirmed that this is the case, both praising Nintendo’s development team and saying that “DeNA’s expertise is definitely backend.”
Asako also called DeNA’s relationship with Nintendo “the most crucial partnership” that the company’s ever had – even more important than its collaboration with Disney and Star Wars – and admitted that there’s a lot of pressure on DeNA to deliver. As Asako said, “people are expecting a lot” from the team-up.
However, if DeNA and Nintendo can pull it off, both companies stand to make a lot of money. When talking about DeNA’s and Nintendo’s partnership, Asako evoked Glu Mobile’s hit Kim Kardashian: Hollywood as an example of how a popular brand (like Nintendo’s various IPs) can lift a mobile title to the top of the charts.
The comparison also implies that Nintendo’s mobile games will have micro-transactions. While Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has previously discussed his dislike of the “free to play” label and promised that Nintendo’s mobile games will be complete, value-packed experiences, DeNA makes most of its money on the free to play revenue model. It remains to be seen exactly how Nintendo will strike the balance between monetizing its games, while still staying true to its brand. Expect more information as 2015 rolls on and Nintendo’s first mobile game creeps closer to release.