Nintendo Loses The Mobile Gaming Wars
It’s the end of an era. We’re post-major lockdowns. We’re mid-unionization attempts. We’re pre-flying cars. With Nintendo announcing that it’s shutting down service for Dragalia Lost, (which would be an amazing name for a drag brunch if any enterprising kings or queens or monarchs are in the market) it seems like the mega publisher has well and truly lost the mobile gaming wars.
“Isn’t the Switch mobile? I play Super Smash everyday while I poop!” Mobile here is meant in the British sense, say it with a Helen Mirren accent and you’ll get that we mean mobile as in mobile phones. But the Switch does have a big part to play in why Nintendo is abandoning its attempts to dominate the mobile gaming market. The Switch, first released in 2017, has become so wildly successful that execs at Nintendo are putting their development dollars into new titles for the handheld console. And turning away from gacha (a game in which a player can use real money to enhance gameplay) style games for iPhone and Android devices.
Nintendo began its foray into the mobile gaming space with recognizable IP like Mario and the customizable Mii characters that were first introduced on the Wii in 2006. But the company has shown little interest in competing with mobile gaming companies seeking to put out free-to-play games while nickel and diming revenue. Is this artistic integrity? Or shrewd business savvy?
While Nintendo is abandoning its legacy mobile titles and probably not developing any mobile games with new IP, Pokemon GO is still out there, waiting to see which way the wind blows. The game has had some incredible ups, and notable downs. During the most intensive pandemic lockdowns, the number of Pokemon GO users skyrocketed. But will those numbers hold now that people are venturing out of their caves? I’d bet my favorite Tangela that they don’t. This game will still be viable for the foreseeable future, but will Nintendo continue to support it if the amount of players stagnates?
Nintendo clearly has no interest in milking players with gacha games, but the mobile gaming market is… the majority of the gaming market. The most played games in the world are all free-to-play mobile games. So while Nintendo has lost and retreated from the mobile wars for now, there’s a chance they’ll be forced back into the fray as the mobile gaming market consumes us all.