Back in March, Nintendo revealed their long term intentions to enter gradually into the mobile market outside their dedicated 3DS system. Since then, the company has been ever-so-slowly dipping their toes into the sales strategies and marketing techniques signature to the mobile market.
These baby steps are most apparent in their currently 3DS-exclusive title, Pokemon Shuffle. The game is Nintendo’s experimental guinea pig and their first use of the “freemium” sales model seen so often in mobile gaming. They’ve allowed the experiment to continue until they became comfortable taking the next step. That point was very recently, as today they’ve made the announcement to move officially into the mobile market with Pokemon Shuffle.
The game is a simple match-3 puzzle game that allows players a limited number of plays per day. Over a period of hours, the number of stages playable slowly replenishes in the form of 5 hearts, but more hearts can be purchased in-game with real money. Besides hearts, players can purchase items and power ups for use in the game.
Movement into the mobile market is seen as bold for Nintendo, who seems to have resisted the media convergence that other console producers have welcomed with open arms. If Shuffle sees success in the mobile market it will surely be followed by other titles and franchises in a similar manner. It’s definitely not Nintendo’s only game to feature in-game purchases.
Nintendo’s big announcements earlier this year, centerpieced by the mysterious Project NX, was one focused on finally exploring releasing games playable on mobile phones, tablets, and even PCs. Shuffle marks the first big step of this transition, if you can even call it that.
If you take a step back and look at Nintendo, it may seem a bit confusing. On one hand you see them spreading slowly into the mobile market in a new effort to support devices they don’t produce. On the other hand is the promise that they will remain focused on dedicated gaming devices. Hopefully this duality is a showcase of a wide range of capability and not a few misguided ventures. Their newest ally, DeNA, although scarcely recognized outside Asia, has gained a lot of momentum since its inception in ’99.