Comment & Opinion

What does Miitomo tell us about Nintendo's mobile strategy?

Mobile Mavens on Nintendo's first pass

What does Miitomo tell us about Nintendo's mobile strategy?

Nintendo's announcement it was getting into mobile games has been one of the news stories of 2015.

Yet, aside from the initial surprise and excitement, there was always going to be some uncertainty about its strategy until more details about the five games it's making with DeNA were revealed.

In that context, the unveiling of Miitomo as Nintendo's first mobile product - which now won't be released until early 2016 - doesn't actually answer many of those questions.

Or perhaps the rollout of a mobile messaging system is actually a deep strategic move.

In that context, we asked our Mobile Mavens...

  • What does Miitomo tell us about Nintendo's mobile strategy?


David MacQueen Executive Director Strategy Analytics

I doubt this is meant to be a stand-alone product. Miitomo is more of a foundation to a broader strategy with a common user ID for all Nintendo games.

It would make a lot of sense if subsequent mobile games and the Wii hook into this chat app in some fashion to provide the community aspects of the game. I wonder what they'll do with it?

Can I earn a plumber's hat from playing mobile Mario Kart? Can the answers I preload my avatar with be hints and tips? Is there going to be some kind of deeper integration?

It's fun to speculate, I don't know, and to be honest I don't care because I'm a Nintendo fanboy so I know I'll be using it whatever.

Will Luton Luton & Son Founder

Yeah, this appears to be a platform play through chat as has been popular in Asia. But this is specifically to push players back to Ninty's own hardware.

Also the Pokemon Company, which I understand is completely owned by Nintendo, has a few mobile games (TCG and match-3) already live. So the company is already doing more traditional mobile games.

William D. Volk Chief Futurist Forward Reality

I think this is brilliant.
William D. Volk

I think this is brilliant. Owning the social graph, instead of relying on Facebook and existing chat programs, is a setup for future success and growth for Nintendo.

Also free-to-play is almost mandatory on mobile, given the magnitude of piracy for premium apps (stay tuned for more info).

Christopher Kassulke CEO / Owner HandyGames

This picture says more than all the words I will write here… Are those the guys who can bring Nintendo to the new gaming world?

The shareholders of DeNA and Nintendo were not amused about the info they shared yesterday it went down between 10-20%. I wish them a lot of luck in the market cause I believe they will need it!

Yes I am also a fan boy of Nintendo of the “old age” as they set standards and did it their way. Now I am a little bit shocked what Nintendo has become.

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor Steel Media Ltd

You'd look good in a suit and tie, Christopher!

Christopher Kassulke CEO / Owner HandyGames

You do not require a tie in our industry – or? And if I would look like them I am sure I would not wear it ;)

Those are empty faces with no vision and no fun at all! If you want to conquer new markets you need to be ready for adventures and a big smile in your face….

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

How dare you suggest that Myamoto-san is dry and corporate... ;-)

I guess my reaction is of disappointment that Nintendo's first direct foray into mobile gaming isn't actually a mobile game?

Miitomo follows the established Nintendo strategy of looking inwards towards its brand heritage.
John Ozimek

Yes, the app is a great idea and follows the established Nintendo strategy of looking inwards towards its brand heritage and incredibly loyal fanbase, and yes, it's based on messaging, which could well be integral to the experience across subsequent apps.

But. Where. Is. The. Game???

Certainly launching into a Japanese home market, it's a safe first foray, and the visuals and quality look what you'd expect. But I hope subsequent apps will be aimed at everyone and not just the Nintendo hardcore, and we see some of that famous Nintendo quality come through some new IP just for mobile.

You usually only get to launch a first product once - so from a marketing perspective, it feels like they almost don't want people to notice in case Nintendo mobile games will join GameBoy VR and the Power Glove in the hall of shame.

Tony Gowland CEO Ant Workshop

Tony’s career has covered the whole spectrum from AAA console to handheld, mobile and flash titles, working on huge franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Call of Duty.

In 2015 he founded Ant Workshop to develop his own titles and to offer his experience as a design consultant.

They're not the first company to try and create their own social network for games on mobile either. Remember OpenFeint?

It feels a little bit of a safe play to me.
Tony Gowland

Or that about 3 years or so ago it was all the rage for every publisher to create their own cross-title platform that you had to sign in to for seemingly very little benefit to the player (and a big heap of cross promotion and player tracking benefit for the publisher)?

It feels a little bit of a safe play to me that this is attempting to make some of the social features that have served the 3DS range so well happen on mobile no doubt, as others have said, to build on it with yer actual games afterwards.

But yeah, there's surely got to be a lot of disappointment amongst fans dying to play an official Pokemon or Animal Crossing on their phones (rather than one of the many other attempts to fill these spaces - often without the crucial charm Nintendo brings).

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative

I have high hopes for Nintendo. I don't think they would be better off going into mobile, but if they do, I believe they can being innovation that no one else has been able to bring to the space.

I am excited by what Nintendo could do with free-to-start, if they release a good game and it performs really well.
Dave Castelnuovo


They didn't have to make this announcement, it was short sighted and probably anxiety-driven because they feel like they need to keep people apprised of their mobile plans.

In their own words, they need more time, not to develop the app, but to "explain" it to users. Doesn't really sound like a powerful first step into the mobile world.

It's a free-to-start communications app, which means that their free-to-start monetization method already has one knock against it.

Who is clamoring for another stand-alone communications app and out of those people, who is willing to pay for it?

I am excited by what Nintendo could do with free-to-start, if they release a good game and it performs really well, maybe it can be a beacon of hope for other premium games on the app store and encourage larger publishers to experiment with more non-freemium games.

This doesn't seem to bode well for that dream.

Although who knows whether this announcement will matter in the end? Momentum is really important for a launch like this and they lost a ton of it.

Will we get this on mobile?

In the end though, their ultimate success depends on the other three games and whether they can actually launch them in March.

A really kick ass game could turn around this negative sentiment in a heartbeat. Having Miitomo sitting out there in its own while they try push their actual games to the summer or next holiday season would be suicide.

Jared Steffes Co-founder Muxy

I'm not excited. I think we are looking for something exciting to grasp because we have a place in our hearts for Nintendo. I "want" to be excited.

If Nintendo is using this Miimoto title to scale a new social ecosystem that could be cool.
Jared Steffes

There is little known about this title, so I am just speculating.

This made me think of the Wii, WiiU, and 3DS built in OS software. It is always a horrible experience because it doesn't perform like normal. I still have to spend 6 mins fiddling around with menus to find messages on my WiiU or 3DS from friends. It's not natural.

This also made me think of OpenFeint and Rovio. Both tried to create something outside the core games to utilize their network effect.

If Nintendo is using this Miimoto title to scale a new social ecosystem that could be cool. But if they plan on making that ecosystem available to third party devs it will be a nightmare.


Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.