Why Nintendo giving up on mobile games is the right move

Nintendo mobile games have had more than a few problems, and now it seems that the long-running Japanese gaming company is moving away from the mobile market entirely. While a few hardcore fans might be sad to see these games go, I’d wager that most of us won’t really mind them going away.

According to Bloomberg, Nintendo will no longer be investing so heavily in mobile games, recognizing the damage poor mobile entries can potentially have on its brands. With much controversy surrounding microtransactions in Nintendo’s mobile games, the company reportedly asked its partners to not push too heavily on convincing players to make in-app purchases.

While the company’s recent Pokemon Presents featured two new mobile games in the form of Pokemon Unite and Pokemon Cafe Mix, both games will also be playable on the Nintendo Switch, signaling a change in the company’s approach. Though some might miss Nintendo’s mobile-focused offerings, this is a good move.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp succeeds where others fail

Nintendo mobile games Pocket camp characters

Let’s start with some raw data regarding Nintendo’s mobile offerings. Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes have both struggled to find an audience; they’ve seen their revenue drop 41% and 24% between February 1 and May 31.

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No hard data is available for Mario Kart Tour, but Kazunori Ito of Morningstar Research indicates that that game is floundering well. In fact, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is one of the only Nintendo mobile games that seems to be doing okay — but just barely.

Nintendo mobile games are behind the times

How many tiers are in Mario Kart Tour

Nintendo is clearly experimenting with different mobile strategies. While their games are free to play, each has its own pricing models. Mario Kart Tour even offers a subscription model for the truly dedicated fans.

Regardless of the pricing model, the prices themselves are often out of whack. For example, the Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass subscription put the 200cc races behind a paywall and cost $4.99 a month. That’s a big ask for mobile gaming, although some games like Clash of Clans have had success with a similar pricing model.

Let’s not forget about the usual mobile shenanigans like packs of premium currency or items that cost $20, $40, or more depending on what you buy. That might fly in a game your mom plays like Candy Crush, but Nintendo gamers crossing over from a console don’t seem all that willing to shell out that kind of cash.

Core Nintendo games are better

Nintendo mobile games Melba New Horizons


The biggest problem with Nintendo mobile games is this: the core console games are just better. They offer better gameplay and they offer much better value.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is the only mobile offering from Nintendo that isn’t facing a decline, so let’s use that as our example. What do you think would have a better value — spending $60 on stuff in Pocket Camp or spending $59.99 and buying Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch?

I already have well over 500 hours in New Horizons; I doubt that I’d get the same amount of value or entertainment out of a microtransaction spend for Pocket Camp. I believe most people have come to the same conclusion.

Nintendo has badly missed the mark on its mobile offerings. It may figure out the right way to do things, but that day is not today. Stepping back from mobile gaming and revaluating its strategy is the right move.