LONDON -- As Nintendo seeks to break into the lucrative smartphone gaming industry, the company has revealed details of its first smartphone game called Miitomo but has delayed the launch until March 2016, which has led to a 10 percent drop in the company's share price.
The details of the game were revealed at a management meeting, which was the first public appearance of the company's new President Tatsumi Kimishima after he was named as Satoru Iwata's replacement last month, following the latter's sudden death.
Details on exactly how the mechanics of Miitomo will work are still vague, with Kimishima saying the game will allow users to download and customize their Mii characters, in-game representations of players that have been used in games on the company's consoles for the last few years. The characters will communicate with fellow Mii characters automatically.
Based on Kimishima's comments, the game sounds like the visual representation of a social network where you meet people and talk about various topics. “You might dig up some previously-buried topics of conversation, learn about a surprising side of your friend you’ve never seen before, find things you never knew you had in common,” Kimishima said, according to Wired. The game will be free to download and follow the freemium business model by offering in-app purchases for various items.
The game, which is being developed in partnership with Japanese mobile games developer DeNA, was initially slated for a 2015 launch, and the delay, which caused a sharp drop in Nintendo's shares, has also resulted in an almost 20 percent drop in DeNA's shares.
The game's release has now been pushed to March 2016 to better promote it during the busy upcoming holiday season, according to the company.
Back in March, in what was one of Iwata's last acts as president, the iconic gaming company announced a partnership with DeNA to create five smartphone games based on some of Nintendo's most famous game characters. Kimishima said all five titles would be released by March 2017 though he failed to reveal which of the company's iconic characters would be used in the games.
Nintendo has been struggling to compete in the new gaming landscape where smartphones have revolutionized the casual gaming world. "[It is] unbelievable that it has taken so long for Nintendo to take action. They had to see Apple, Google, King and SuperCell surpass them in terms of 2014 game revenues to take action towards mobile," Peter Warman, Newzoo CEO and video game analyst, told International Business Times ahead of Nintendo unveiling details of Miitomo.
The company also announced that a service called My Nintendo would officially replace the shuttered Club Nintendo and operate in a broadly similar manner with players earning points for buying and playing games, which can be redeemed for in-game items or discounts on real-world products.
A new customer account system called Nintendo Account also has been created, which will be cloud-based and allow players to sync their character's updates and progress between smartphones and consoles.