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Nintendo pulls out the stops for Fire Emblem Heroes' billion-dollar future

Nintendo’s biggest mobile game gears up for its next major update and Book 8’s opening chapters
Nintendo pulls out the stops for Fire Emblem Heroes' billion-dollar future
  • Fire Emblem Heroes reaches major Version 8.0 update ahead of seventh anniversary
  • Book 8 takes clear Nordic inspirations with new characters and more gacha pulls ahead

It’s fast approaching seven years since Fire Emblem Heroes marked one of Nintendo’s first forays into the world of mobile gaming, having landed at a time when a Nintendo game leaving company hardware was a bizarre, curious novelty.

And despite the Fire Emblem series’ relative obscurity compared to the likes of Nintendo powerhouses Mario, Zelda and Animal Crossing, Heroes has proven a phenomenal success in becoming the Japanese giant’s only mobile unicorn, crossing the $1 billion milestone in 2022 and accounting for 54.5% of Nintendo’s mobile revenue.

Indeed, Heroes’ lucrative performance as an RPG gacha game - both popular genres in Japan - explains why the game is gearing up for its Version 8.0 update while games like Mario Kart: Tour are winding down. Among the update plans are a new story mode, a whole new game mode in Affinity Auto-Battles (as auto-battlers continue to grow in popularity), celebratory rewards and, of course, new characters.

Book 8

Fire Emblem Heroes' next major update has been confirmed for tomorrow, December 7, with a brand-new story campaign premiering at the same time. Book 8 will be, as the name implies, the eighth Heroes story, simultaneously designed as a standalone for new fans to jump into while serving up some overarching lore for longtime players.

The new story will commence one year to the day from Book 7, which opened its first pages on December 7 2022 and concluded last month with Gullveig and Kvasir joining the gacha, both prominent characters in the previous story.

Ratatoskr in the Book 8 trailer
Ratatoskr in the Book 8 trailer

And in preparation for Book 8’s launch, Heroes has introduced players to Ratatoskr, the new protagonist who will fight alongside mainstays Alphonse and Sharena. She is a Divine Beast who can transform between human form and a giant squirrel, inspired by the squirrel of the same name from Nordic mythos; the game’s interpretations of mythology is one of its appeals, with each Book introducing new locations like the World Tree Yggdrasil.

Notably, Ratatoskr’s Divine Vein skill has been inspired directly by Fire Emblem Engage on Nintendo Switch. It allows players to manipulate the battlefield itself, and is on the more subtle side as cross-platform crossovers go, following a series of promotional pushes throughout 2023.

Fans from all platforms

As well as its original characters, Heroes has introduced hundreds of fan favourites from the series’ legacy over the years, mainly obtainable via the gacha - the monetisation model through which the $1 billion milestone was reached. Of course, in classic gacha form, there are plenty of seasonal alts based on real-world events too, from summery beachgoers to wrapped-up-warm Christmas carollers. With Version 8.0, characters from the 3DS era Inigo, Severa, Laurent and Rearmed Lucina are joining the roster.

Main series Fire Emblem fans have previously been encouraged to try Heroes out by introducing new characters on mobile before their Switch debut, and also offering special rewards on Switch for playing on mobile first. Engage’s DLC even featured the formerly mobile-exclusive character Veronica, showing just how far Nintendo has come in its appreciation of a mobile audience.