It’s only been on the app store for a couple of weeks, but Nintendo’s Miitomo game is already racking up some fantastic engagement.
The Japanese titan’s first foray into the lucrative market of mobile gaming and microtransactions – aka cash for hats – is apparently drawing more than a quarter of a million dollars every week.
But more than that, the game itself has so far proven to be a fun and engaging hit, with four million monthly active users logging on to change their costumes, take photos with Mii friends and answer each other’s questions about their favourite meals and what they’re up to at the weekend.
It is a great game, but if my own experience with Miitomo is anything to go by, this surge of success may not last.
Nintendo’s casual appeal
In terms of the game itself, and as you’d expect from the all-time masters of video gaming, Miitomo is a beautifully-designed and cleverly thought out game with plenty of fun to be had by its users.
I said as much when I logged in myself for the first time. I set up my little character, gave him a jaunty (free) hat and let him loose on the Questions board, to tell everyone how much I loved season two of Daredevil and how much I love pizza. (That really seemed to come up a lot. Is that their design flaw or mine?)
There was plenty to keep me coming back for a whole weekend – more friends to add through Twitter, Facebook and in person. The face-to-face add is a particularly excellent idea, as me and my friend found out at a wrestling show a couple of weeks ago.
There are a few niggling issues with Miitomo – the Miitomo Drop, a seemingly enticing mini-game with unique clothing to be won, is a frustrating experience and not all that fun a game to play in the first place. And I was getting a few too many randoms trying to add me too – without the benefit of a Twitter account or Facebook page to display, I was hesitant to accept any invitations.
Regardless, I tapped on and enjoyed the whole playing experience for a few more days. But then I just stopped.
No real reason, really – and whenever the mood strikes me I’m still liable to get in there and see what funny in-jokes my friends are sharing as their Answers to certain confusing questions.
But there’s nothing else really to make me want to go back. All of which is fine – I’ve talked before about how I’m never going to pay money to get special features on mobile gaming, for a start – but I’m at a bit of a loss.
Maintaining the mobile hype
Mobile gaming is a tough one; even with the most attractive titles, once you’re through the initial frenzied gameplay there’s really nothing to keep you going without heavy investment of time and money – neither of which I’m inclined to put in to most mobile games.
I am sure that this isn’t something Nintendo are too worried about – they’ve got 3,999,999 much more hardcore users to take care of right now. But for filthy casuals like me that are too easily distracted – or simply not that attached to their mobile – the magic wore off a little too quickly. And maybe that’s something that Nintendo should worry about six months or a year down the line, especially if they see mobile gaming as a major route to revenue as they’ve indicated previously.
By all means, download a free copy and give it a go – it’s a fascinating experiment and there’s certainly enough of a novelty to it. But the appeal wore off for me quite quickly, and considering that mobile is more than a passing concern for Nintendo right now, the next few weeks can be very telling for their entire mobile strategy. That is, until that VR Pokemon game comes out, then I’m right back in there.