At a press conference, Nintendo announced plans for Miitomo, the first of 5 new apps developed for smartphone devices. Partnering with DeNA, Nintendo plans to release Miitomo by spring 2016 – with a tentative deadline of March 2017 to release all 5 of the games.
Nintendo’s move to mobile was announced back in March of this year with the announcement of their partnership with DeNA, the owner of the Mobage portal and social network. The announcement was an about-face from late CEO Satoru Iwata’s position, where he insisted that Nintendo would focus on developing their own hardware and unique experiences for gamers without weakening their franchises and devices.
Miimoto, as reported by WSJ Japan and IGN, will be the first game released, and it’s going to be free-to-play. Additional downloads can be bought later, but the rest of the titles will be pay-to-download. Along with the games, Nintendo is working on a cloud-based data service dubbed “Nintendo Account” that will keep Nintendo hardware users, PC and smart device users connected with one another. This should help with Miitomo, as the created Miis will be able to be ported to other games utilizing Nintendo hardware and can make contact with other users. As a word of warning, however, it looks like your created Miis have the capability to make contact with other Miis without your knowledge.
Though this is the first time that Nintendo and DeNA have partnered, it appears that Nintendo is confident in this move – they currently own 10% of the mobile provider’s stock shares, making them the second-largest shareholder. Fans worried about DeNA watering down Nintendo IPs won’t have to worry about that – Shigeru Miyamoto, present at the press conference, said that DeNA will only be working on the operations end of the games, leaving the door open for Nintendo themselves to take care of the game design.
It is a little debatable at this point whether to call Mitomo an actual game instead of a social network app – Nintendo exec Shinya Takahashi intends for the company to encourage players to share things about themselves, especially those hesitant to. This reads more like a Facebook or Twitter-type application, more than an actual game. It is still, however, nice to see that Nintendo isn’t simply taking the easy way out and pumping out a simple port with touch-screen controls for any of their titles.
Unintentional street-passes and information sharing might make some people uneasy, and the same goes for the Nintendo moving into smartphone territory. The entire move, however, and the highly secretive NX, may together help to bring Nintendo back from the brink after the last few rough years.
Miitomo is slated for a Spring 2016 release, with the remaining 4 titles TBA.