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Nintendo unveils its next smartphone games to follow App Store hit, Miitomo


Nintendo will follow up its App Store success Miitomo with a pair of new games, released this fall, the company announced this morning. The details were unveiled alongside other company news, including a release date for its new gaming console, the Nintendo NX and details on a Zelda delay, among other things. And no, the new smartphone games will still not feature Mario, in case you’re wondering. Instead, the two apps will be based on existing franchises, “Fire Emblem” and “Animal Crossing,” the company says.

The former is a role-playing strategy game involving a small army of soldiers that Nintendo says will be “more accessible” to users in comparison to its counterpart designed for Nintendo’s gaming consoles. In other words, while the previous version of “Fire Emblem” was aimed at more serious gamers, this an attempt to translate that to the smartphone environment.

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Meanwhile, “Animal Crossing” will be connected with the world of “Animal Crossing” for Nintendo’s gaming systems. Details are still scarce on what that means, but Nintendo hints that by playing games across platforms, it will allow for a better experience in some way.

“Animal Crossing,” as its players know, is a series of games. It’s unclear if the new app will be a new title in the series, or if it will work with an existing game in some way.

It’s worth pointing out, also, that Nintendo’s new games are not only different types of mobile games from each other – one a tactical, role-playing game, and the other more casual – they’re also different from Nintendo’s first App Store launch, the iPhone app Miitomo.

That app is more of a social network than a game, where users design personalized avatars called Miis – similar to those introduced with the Wii – and then interact with other avatars in a virtual environment. You can customize the look-and-feel of your character by selecting outfits and accessories, facial features, hairstyles and more. Then you answer a few “getting to know you” questions. As you interact with others in the world of Miitomo, those answers are shared with others playing the game along with you.

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There are also other elements to the app, including the ability to take photos of your Mii and a mini game where you can win prizes, like unique accessories. An in-store shop will allow you to buy more accessories and outfits for your characters.

Nintendo hasn’t yet said how it will generate revenue for its new titles, though in-app purchases also seem likely.

While it makes sense that Nintendo would look to its back catalog when rolling out new App Store releases, it’s still sitting on the Super Mario franchise. Perhaps that’s a smart strategy – after all, Nintendo fans today have so much pent-up demand for its titles that they’re eating up whatever Nintendo releases for mobile – even the oddity that is Miitomo.

Though it sounds like a social network for children, Miitomo has now grown to over 10 million unique users worldwide, says Nintendo.

That’s a significant amount of growth in a short period of time. The game was soft-launched in Japan on March 17, 2016, then arrived in the U.S. and other countries, including select European markets, on March 31. 

In the U.S., the app climbed to the top of the iTunes App Store shortly after its debut, Nintendo noted. Plus, over 300 million conversations have taken place in Miitomo and users have created over 20 million photos, to date.

These numbers indicate that its early adopters aren’t just curiously downloading the game, but they’re actually playing it. How long that will last is another question, though. The app has already dropped to #580 Overall in the U.S. App Store, and #42 in Social Networking.

Nintendo’s new games will arrive this fall, and will be followed by a few more in 2017. The company had previously said that it would put out approximately 5 new smartphone titles by March 2017, so there’s still hope that Nintendo’s more iconic characters will finally make their iPhone debut in the future.

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