Nintendo okay making less money on mobile games to keep players happy

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo has told their mobile game partners (including DeNA) to not make as much money as they could. Now, this may sound like a crazy business decision but seems Nintendo still worries a lot about their reputation amongst gamers. According to the report, Nintendo is concerned that if players feel like they are funnelling too much money into a mobile game it will negatively affect the Nintendo brand.

Just mention the word ‘microtransactions’ and most gamers will be more than happy to pronounce its evils. However, the truth is that no matter how you swing it – microtransactions, especially in the mobile space, make companies a lot of money. And once your company goes public, shareholders will be rather keen to milk whatever cow is producing the most. So why could Nintendo be making these decisions?

A complicated relationship

Well, firstly Nintendo was slow to enter the mobile market. In fact, for several years they swore that they would not be touching it with a long stick. That’s changed over the years. But even then when their most iconic character got his own game in Super Mario Run – they used a free-to-start, once-off-payment model. That’s changed with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Dragalia Lost. But, even then, it’s the latter game that’s mentioned in the article as one that Nintendo has specifically rebalanced to benefit players.

“Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game. If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more”.

CyberAgent official – according to Wall Street Journal

We also know that there are still lots of loud voices high up in the Nintendo hierarchy that see the mobile games’ market as a way to channel players to their console ecosystem. So it makes some sense that Nintendo (a game maker traditionally very image conscious) wants players to leave their mobile space with as positive an experience as possible.

Now while it’s easy to laud this kind of decision from a gamer’s point of view (and gives us a little hope for the upcoming Mario Kart Tour and Dr Mario World) don’t be fooled. Nintendo’s mobile market is making them a lot of money. Back in December Variety reported that just Dragalia Lost had made $50 Million. And then in January we brought you the news that Sensor Tower estimated that Nintendo’s mobile revenue hit the $348 million mark in 2018. So, despite some good intentions and feel good news clips we fear that ultimately – Money will talk. Until then though, enjoy the (slightly cheaper and fairer-feeling) ride.

Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

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