Around six months back, Nintendo made the somewhat shocking announcement that they’d be entering the mobile gaming market along with Japanese mobile publisher DeNA. Since then, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company announced Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game that lets you hunt Pokémon in the real world, but we’ve heard nothing about the internally-developed mobile games Nintendo will be publishing with DeNA.
Well, today, at a corporate management meeting, Nintendo officially unveiled their first non-Pokémon mobile app, and it’s probably not what you were expecting. It’s not Mario, Zelda or Animal Crossing-branded, it’s called Miitomo, and it’s not really a traditional game per se. Basically, in Miitomo, you make a Mii, then fill out a questionnaire to give that Mii a “personality.” That Mii will then automatically interact with other people’s Miis in quirky/amusing ways. It really is a quintessential Nintendo product – a communication app in which users don’t actually directly communicate with each other. Nintendo is specifically pushing Miitomo as the perfect app for shy people who don’t like to communicate. Sign me up, I guess?
At the same meeting, Nintendo also announced plans for a new cloud-based account system that players can sign up for through Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and which can be accessed through mobile devices, computers and, of course, Nintendo gaming platforms.
They’re also rolling out My Nintendo, a new loyalty/points program similar to the old, sadly departed, Club Nintendo.
With its focus on non-direct communication and bridging social awkwardness, Miitomo feels like a very Japan-focused creation, and I have a feeling it probably won’t make big waves in the West. Apparently, Nintendo investors agree, as the company’s stock plunged after the app’s announcement. That said, I think Miitomo is a good sign that Nintendo is pursuing interesting ideas on mobile, rather than just slapping touchscreen controls on old Mario games. Miitomo will be released March of 2016, with four more Nintendo mobile games/apps scheduled for the rest of that year.