Nintendo’s first smartphone game is a communication game called Miitomo, and it will be released in March 2016, the company said today.
New Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima, in his first public appearance as the company’s head, said at a press briefing today in Tokyo that in the free-to-play game, users will create a “Mii” avatar character, which will go out and communicate with their friends’ Mii avatars automatically.
Miitomo is meant to facilitate more communication between friends, getting them talking about things they wouldn’t have brought up on their own, Kimishima said at the press briefing today in Tokyo. “You might dig up some previously-buried topics of conversation, learn about a surprising side of your friend you’ve never seen before, find things you never knew you had in common,” Kimishima said.
Kimishima also said that Nintendo’s new online customer account system would be called Nintendo Account, and transfer data between mobile and home games.
Additionally, Nintendo announced the replacement for its shuttered Club Nintendo service. It’s called My Nintendo, and it’s described very much like Club Nintendo: By buying and playing games, customers earn points that they can redeem for digital game content like wallpapers or in-game items, or redeem them for actual physical goods like game figurines, or for discount coupons.
A Big Move For Nintendo
Nintendo long resisted putting its games onto smartphones, or indeed any other gaming platform that it did not manufacture itself. But the dawning realization that mobile devices were beginning to replace the television is what Nintendo says led it to believe that its characters and games needed to show up on those increasingly ubiquitous screens as well.
Satoru Iwata, in one of his last major moves as Nintendo’s president, inked a deal with Japanese mobile maker DeNA in March of this year to collaborate on Nintendo-branded smartphone games and the Nintendo Account system. Iwata died of bile duct cancer just months later.
“We have no intention at all to port existing game titles for dedicated game platforms to smart devices because if we cannot provide our consumers with the best possible play experiences, it would just ruin the value of Nintendo’s IP,” Iwata said at the time.
Kimishima said that Nintendo plans to release 5 smartphone games in total by March 2017, and that any of Nintendo’s popular franchises might be used for these games.