According to a new report from SensorTower, Nintendo has surpassed the figure of $1 billion in revenue using its mobile games for Android and iOS. The most contributory game was the popular and free-to-play Fire Emblem Heroes, which was released in 2017. Since then it got to earn $656 million that is more than every other Nintendo mobile game combined.
Fire Emblem Heroes is placed in the category of “gacha” game, where players have to spend time in the game to casually fetch new characters with different abilities, items, and stats. Unlike games like Fortnite, where players can outright purchase new and latest character skins or get them over time via a Battle Pass, everything in Fire Emblem Heroes is scattered randomly: you might pull the rare character you’re hoping for on your first pull, or drain out hundreds of dollars on thousands of pulls to never get what you desire.
Developer Intelligent Systems continuously includes fresh and more powerful characters (including some that are themed according to the season and are only available for a limited time); this makes sure that the stream of revenue remains constant.
This approach by Nintendo in contrast to its first mobile experiment, Super Mario Run, which assured a re-imagined experience for Mario especially, made for mobile. The game was kind of okay; however, it didn’t offer the essence of classic Mario games. It also only provided a single upfront $9.99 purchase unlike Emblem Heroes or Animal Crossing that offers constant revenue. Pocket Camp became the second top earner, leading Nintendo to flag it a “disappointment” though it hit more than 200 million downloads.
A smaller and Quicker Format
It also helps that Fire Emblem Heroes is a good game, translating the tactical combat of the mainline console games to a smaller, quicker format to play on the go. It’s that enjoyable gameplay that makes up the other half of Fire Emblem Heroes’ success and is something that games like the Candy Crush-copying Dr. Mario World (Nintendo’s least profitable mobile game, by no coincidence) lack.
Nintendo is already leveraging on the success of Fire Emblem too and with its latest mobile game: Mario Kart Tour. Same as Fire Emblem Heroes, Mario Kart Tour takes a noticeable property (in this case, Mario Kart, which is supposedly even more popular than Fire Emblem), transforms the gameplay to a mobile-friendly format, and includes gacha elements on top for a nearly endless revenue stream.
It’s a bet that’s already profitable: last year, Mario Kart Tour was the most downloaded game on iOS, and it’s already crossed Super Mario Run in terms of revenue, despite only having been out for a few months.
Hello, I’m Anna Yeo. If you like my news coverage, please drop a good word in my inbox. I’m journalist by profession and have been part of many major reporting across the globe. I like to write crisp and factual news. I have completed my masters degree in journalism. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]