It’s been five days since Nintendo (7974) surprised the world with further details on its smartphone plans.
The news made the rounds on October 29 and shares of both Nintendo and partner DeNA (2432) have been falling in recent days, but the dust is slowly beginning to settle now.
This is a good opportunity to have a quick look back at how the predictions I made (on my Twitter) about the Nintendo announcement panned out in the end.
(After all, I am not a blogger but a consultant and analyst for the financial and gaming industries, so please bear with me for a second before I go into what may come next.)
I started sharing the first bit on September 20:
4) So my estimate is the 1st DeNA-Nintendo game will be unveiled shortly before or on Oct 28. F2P, but probably not with Mario as 1st app.
— Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) September 19, 2015
As we know now, all of this came true (almost – as Miitomo was unveiled one day later).
On October 3, this tweet followed:
About that first Nintendo-DeNA mobile game: Expect the unexpected, and soon. — Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) October 2, 2015
(Interestingly, DeNA West CEO Shintaro Asako used the same operative word (“soon”) 10 days later at the Gamesbeat 2015 conference in San Francisco.)
Then, I followed up with this tweet storm two days before the unveiling:
1) One day to go until Nintendo’s first of two briefings this week. The first app will use existing IP, but don’t expect too much from it.
— Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) October 27, 2015
2) Don’t get your hopes up too high for Mario. But I heard Nintendo and DeNA are planning to pull out the big guns (bigger IPs) next year.
— Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) October 27, 2015
3) About the membership service, I heard technical challenges made a roll-out earlier in the year impossible (well, this isn’t trivial). — Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) October 27, 2015
4) Another point: according to my sources, Nintendo+DeNA experiment with different business models, so non free-to-play apps are possible. — Dr. Serkan Toto (@serkantoto) October 27, 2015
So thanks to my good sources and some estimates I did by my own, essentially all of my predictions came true.
(Even though I heard about technical challenges with regards to the platform around fall, I wasn’t told about the delay. As Miitomo and the platform are strongly interconnected, it made sense for Nintendo to reschedule both roll-outs.)
To my big astonishment, even top financial analysts (especially but not only in the US) keep claiming publicly – and by now I would even say with ill intent – that Nintendo and DeNA are not really willing to use their premium IP on mobile.
This is despite the fact that in the past, both companies repeatedly said that every IP is on the table for mobile – including during Nintendo’s latest earnings presentation. Here is the key part:
What’s even more surprising to me is that the same analysts also ignore the fact that premium IP has already been announced for mobile by Nintendo.
I am of course talking about Pokemon Go, which was unveiled back on September 10 – with Nintendo’s star designer Shigeru Miyamoto on stage in Tokyo. (Five weeks later, Nintendo invested in US-based mobile game studio Niantic Labs, together with The Pokemon Company and Google. Niantic will be co-developing Pokemon Go.)
In addition to Pokemon, and as I mentioned publicly (see tweet 2) above), other big games and IPs should be rolled out after Miitomo launches in March 2016.
Miitomo was confirmed in an article in The Nikkei to be the first of five smartphone apps Nintendo and DeNA are co-developing through March 2017.
I personally think Miitomo will have little impact for a number of reasons, especially revenue-wise – unless Nintendo and DeNA find some really unique twists to make their communication app stand out. The stated goal to rope in users for the My Nintendo platform would have been much easier to achieve with a real game (especially a Mario-themed one), but apparently some people in Kyoto and Tokyo thought otherwise.
As a final remark, it should be noted that Nintendo can release more apps at any time they want, with Pokemon Go as the best example – because the partnership with DeNA is not exclusive.
Other future/more speculative scenarios that might be interesting to be discussed at some other occasion include subscription-based monetization, the inclusion of next-gen console NX in the Nintendo/DeNA “ecosystem”, additional partnerships (i.e. for the Chinese market), offering LINE-like distribution and marketing channels to help crack user acquisition for third-party developers on mobile, and many more.
Despite the (rightfully) negative reactions all around about the Miitomo and the delay, I personally remain bullish on Nintendo and am very keen to see what they and DeNA will bring to market in 2016 and 2017. (Hints might be given out during DeNA’s earnings call on November 11 already.)