Super Mario Run (Free) finally launched on Android this week after many months of iOS exclusivity, and everyone’s second favorite plumber taking the limelight yet again has led to much speculation and discussion over whether Nintendo’s first true mobile title has been a success or not. Compared to the cash cow and cultural phenomenon that was Niantic’s Pokemon GO (Free), Super Mario Run has not reached such lofty heights, and despite finally launching across all platforms, it’s unlikely that the Android release will serve as a catalyst for sudden unprecedented success. However, in a recent article, Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei has suggested that, despite the fact Super Mario Run “did not meet [Nintendo’s] expectations" according to Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima, the release and subsequent Android launch were primarily focused around expanding the fan base, irrespective of earnings.
In the article published this morning, a ‘senior company official’ at Nintendo emphasises how Fire Emblem Heroes (Free) has instead acted as the cash cow for the company, with the gacha mechanics achieving significant financial success since its February launch. Despite this, Nintendo have emphasised that Fire Emblem Heroes “is an outlier", and “we honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model". This is hypothesised to be because gacha mechanics, in the long run, end up ‘undermining the value of Nintendo’s characters’, and so attracting more users and gaining more visibility is still at the forefront of the publisher’s mobile strategy, even at the expense of profit. If this rhetoric is to be believed, it’s certainly good news for iOS gamers who can expect more premium releases down the line from Nintendo. However, the success (or lack thereof) of the Switch will likely play a major part in defining the future plans for Nintendo on iOS and Android.