Nintendo has not seen the same spark in the mobile space, and one has to wonder how the Switch itself might have cannibalized the company’s mobile sales. After all, the Switch can also be used as a handheld device you can play anywhere.
“Since the release of Mario Kart Tour in fall 2019, Nintendo’s mobile pipeline is empty,” mobile games consultant Serkan Toto told Bloomberg. “In a sense, Nintendo’s enormous success on console reduced the need and the pressure to put resources into mobile.”
Bloomberg also reports that Nintendo hasn’t quite nailed the right business model for its mobile games amid the heightened public scrutiny over microtransactions. “Gacha” games, which feature a type of microtransaction model where you pay into a lottery system in hopes of winning rare loot, remain the most lucrative types of mobile titles in Japan, but have “invited controversy because of its addictive aspects,” according to Bloomberg.
This criticism has reportedly pushed Nintendo to ask mobile game developers to find ways to allow players to spend less on their games, fearing that exploitative microtransaction models like pay-to-win and gacha could hurt the brand. Even if Nintendo were to warm up to the gacha model, Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda told Bloomberg that the company’s current lineup of mobile titles wasn’t equipped to support this business model.
“You need an active long-running franchise with hundreds of attractive characters to make a good gacha game and then you’d need to keep adding new characters each month to retain players,” Yasuda said. “Fire Emblem is the only Nintendo franchise capable of doing that.”