Damn, straight. You heard it right. Nintendo is launching an app. It kinda already did, with its small share on Pokémon Go. Speaking of Niantic, let’s talk a bit about them, shall we?
During Apple’s conference yesterday, September 7th, Niantic exposed massive figures. Interestingly enough, I’m not reading much about this announcement. Let’s get to them: 500 million Pokémon trainers (meaning that 500KK accounts were created in the game – not necessarily downloads, but who’s counting anyway?) and that Trainers walked a astonishing 4.6 billion kilometers while playing the game. If this figure says nothing to you, think again – it means that, in average, each single player holding a single smartphone walked 9.2 kilometers with the app. That is a massive engagement KPI.
Nintendo is a Japanese corporation. As any Japanese company, in average, decisions take way longer than a western company, and those decisions are usually thought to exhaustion. It is quite obvious that the insane Pokémon phenomena pushed Nintendo’s overly cautioned smartphone adoption out of the gates. You can sum that to excellent game design, an evergreen, uber powerful IP (Super Mario) and a marriage to the western’s smartphone Goliath, Apple.
Why not Samsung, or any other Asian company? The reason, in my opinion, is quite obvious. It’s a win-win tradeoff. Nintendo struggles to make business in the western hemisphere, and has no experience with the app industry, at the same time that Apple clearly declared that 2016/2017 will be their strongest push towards Asia ever. Nothing better than having a quintessential Asian brand by your side, right? (How I know that, you may ask. Easy, just analyze the September 7th conference through a semiotics perspective: it was all about Japan).
At the same time, SOE was launching its PS4K/Neo/Pro console. A mid-gen platform that is being heavily criticized by the industry and influencers. Why? Simple – anyone who already has a PS4 has no reason to upgrade. The new console won’t have 4K Blu-ray (it’s a Sony-owned IP, crazy stuff) and I tag along with the choir that is saying 4K is not such a big thing yet, and yes, Xbox twitter provocation is correct – Scorpion is by far a best cost-benefit (Second console for PS4-only owners? Probably.).
Thanks by coming along with me during this rationale. My point here, after I have commented both Nintendo and Sony strategies announced yesterday, is to reinforce something that should be already clear, but unfortunately our market perception and construction is too console oriented, and other platforms usually gain a narrow minded perspective. Mobile, my friends, is not the future. It is a glowing, in-your-face reality, and anyone dealing with games right now should be tackling it one way or another. A clear, objective monetization strategy is key to success and must be defined from the start. Nintendo is going full Premium. Why? Mario-why. You don’t have the mushroom kingdom at your feet? Fear not, you can go F2P or Freemium (yep, they are different). The only thing you need to rethink (unless you already understood the whole market movement, kudos for you) is if you are fighting the right boss. As any decent raid, it needs planning ahead and having the right skillset. Miyamoto-san gave his son a new smartphone. Think different.
André Faure, CEO GamePlan