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Nintendo's mobile future unclear despite “tripled” revenue

The latest financial report muddies the waters by including LEGO and The Super Mario Bros. Movie in the same financial category…
Nintendo's mobile future unclear despite “tripled” revenue
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With the release of Nintendo’s latest financial report comes an updated picture of the company’s commitment to mobile, although the update isn't a particularly helpful one; as far as revenue is concerned, the Japanese giant is muddying the mobile canvas by painting it in a positive light, though with some important caveats that continues to stoke uncertainty.

On the surface, the numbers look incredibly positive this quarter with overall sales in its mobile and IP business rising by 190.1% year-on-year to ¥31.8 billion ($223 million). By comparison, in the same period in 2022, Nintendo generated just shy of ¥11 billion ($77 million).

However, the “IP related income" is the primary factor muddying mobile sales data, as the category encompasses royalties and income from other external Nintendo content. In theory, the category therefore includes any income from Nintendo LEGO and, more importantly, The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Mobile or movie

A global success, the Mario movie surely contributed its fair share of the ¥31.8 billion, making it hard to determine whether mobile earnings have really seen a climb in the past year or not. With changes to Mario Kart Tour such as the removal of the gacha - its primary earnings mechanic - it becomes difficult to see how earnings could have improved so much.

On the other hand, Nintendo’s report noted that The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s success had a positive impact on Mario titles sales on Switch, so it is entirely possible that this did have a beneficial knock-on effect for Mario Kart Tour and Super Mario Run on mobile. The power of Mario is undeniable besides, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being the highest-selling Switch game, and the kart-related segments of the movie may have had a cross-media promotional effect in supporting the mobile game.

Interestingly, sales saw the biggest spike in The Americas this quarter when combining the slightly convoluted mobile and IP data, almost quintupling from approximately ¥5 billion ($35 million) during the 2022 period to almost ¥25 billion ($175 million) in the latest quarter. Japan and Europe, meanwhile, only saw fractional improvements in quarterly revenue.

With Nintendo stating that it sees mobile gaming as a marketing strategy, not a revenue generator, perhaps spending too long analysing and speculating over what revenue comes from mobile and what comes from the Mario movie is an unnecessary when speculating on the future of its mobile games; Nintendo certainly seems to think so, even despite its most successful mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes having earned more than $1 billion.