It’s only a matter of days until Fire Emblem Engage launches on Nintendo Switch, and Intelligent Systems is in full promotional swing; as we speak, players already have their hands on a bunch of new Engage characters by virtue of the gacha in mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes, marking another win for mobile.
On 17 January 2023, a Fire Emblem Heroes update introduced its first batch of key characters from the upcoming Fire Emblem Engage title – beating the Switch game (due to launch this Friday) to the punch.
It isn’t the first time Intelligent Systems has cross-promoted this way, but it has been almost four years since the strategy was last used; in 2017 a handful of characters from 3DS game Fire Emblem Echoes were added to Heroes before release, and in 2019 characters from Switch title Three Houses came out in Heroes first.
However, last year’s Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes didn’t see such early character access, instead adding characters into Heroes months after launch.
The tactic has returned now though, with a new banner aptly named "Engage" featuring Chloé, Céline, Alfred and protagonist Alear.
On Nintendo’s orders?
The new characters’ addition to Heroes appears to put a recent Nintendo statement into action, too. In December 2022 the company stated that, despite the profitability of mobile gaming, it primarily uses the platform to reach new players with its intellectual properties and still views console gaming as its main focus; to Nintendo, mobile is a marketing tool, not a revenue generator.
Nintendo’s approach to mobile gaming is an interesting one, especially considering its mobile downloads are "equivalent to the cumulative unit sales total of all Nintendo hardware". Furthermore, as Nintendo’s most successful mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes alone surpassed $1 billion in lifetime revenue last year. This makes it highly probable that the new characters in Heroes are there to encourage Switch game sales come Friday.
Last November, Nintendo and DeNA announced plans to form Nintendo Systems, a partnership focusing on research and development of digital services.