Though it was only a few years ago that most of us thought we'd never see the day, Nintendo's finally gone ahead and dipped its toes into making games for mobile.
With the release of Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Niantic's wildly popular Pokemon Go, there's no questioning the power of Nintendo's brands when presented to the wider market. This bodes well as a sign of the value that comes with bringing Nintendo experiences to lifestyle hardware that most folks own, allowing them to market their properties further to an audience that may not have been interested otherwise and expanding their potential consumer base on all fronts.
What seem most exciting, however, is imagining what franchises Nintendo will bring to our phones next. Will they make something new to take explicit advantage of mobile hardware? Will they go back to dormant franchises and try to use them to build interest for future titles? Or will the release their mobile games to coincide with big console releases and in between them to help keep up the general mindshare for their products?
Regardless of how they decide to line things up, one thing's for certain: there's a whole lot of potential on this new frontier. I believe that we'll likely see a lot of interesting games come out over the coming years, but here are just a few that I think would make a great fit for our phones.
This is a simple, fun series of –you guessed it– rhythm games! With short levels and simple controls, a title from this franchise would be a great fit for mobile devices.
Rhythm Heaven’s single-input design means that there's little chance of confusion for first timers and that it's a rare example of a game that loses no functionality in its translation to phones or tablets. It’s the kind of unconventional gameplay experience that'd easily be understood by anyone, gamer or not. Don't be fooled by this fact, however: Rhythm Heaven games are known for providing exceptional challenge and being very hard to get perfect runs in. This is a textbook example of a "Easy to pick up, difficult to master" experience that draws in so many players of every demographic and interest.
The visual design is also simple and unique, with charming and funny animations indicating the quality of your performance during play and making for an entertaining experience for bystanders as well!
Speaking of bystanders, turning a phone sideways and providing multiplayer variations of games would be a great way to get folks interacting and sharing enjoyable experiences, either cooperating to complete a round or competing for a highscore.
Typically, games in this series are segmented into sets of minigames that end with a remix stage. This is a great foundation to select a pricing model would allow the game to be attractive as a onetime purchase or as a reasonable segmented investment through cheap sets that expand the base download. Add in some free seasonal or event-based packs, and it'd be sure to stay on people's minds for a long, long time.
Overall, I think that Rhythm Heaven on mobile could easily be a runaway success, and I'd love to see the franchise become a household name and get the love it deserves.
The Warioware series of games are novel, wacky, and charming experiences that are hard to put down. They're known for taking advantage of and highlighting the various features of the hardware they're released on, and mobile is very enticing fit for that sort of design.
Made up of moment-long microgames, Warioware is inherently structured for quick, short play sessions and could very easily be a great draw for those looking for a bunch of variety and value. The fact that mobile devices are almost universally built standard with cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes, vibration, microphones, and light sensors provide the potential for a release that’d offer more diversity and creativity than any other title in the history of the series.
The focus on taking advantage of the hardware also means that very interesting multiplayer functionality could be introduced to tie into Nintendo’s social philosophies and get people interacting on a single phone or across multiple smart devices.
I think pricing considerations for a Warioware title would be pretty much identical to the ones necessary for Rhythm Heaven, which has a similar structure. This means that Nintendo could easily learn very direct lessons about the best way to present either game to potential consumers in the mobile market and ensure greater success moving forward.
Nintendogs is a charming pet simulator that found great success on the DS series of handhelds. With its adorable premise and simple but engaging systems, it's sure to find an audience on mobile.
This is actually the franchise that I think might be Nintendo’s golden ticket to capture the interest of folks that don’t keep up with video games in any capacity. It’s also an attractive proposition to fans of previous titles in the series, as it’s another example of a game that lends itself to being even better on mobile than it was on the 3DS. This means there’d be no compromises in play experience and tons of room for expanding functionality.
Mobile notifications mean that users will get easy access to the status of their animal companion and that taking your dog for a walk might need YOU to take a walk, making it a great lifestyle application that’d encourage increased quality of life, sitting in line with Nintendo’s initiative without the need for additional hardware. Social functionality could also make its way in through these walks, allowing players whose pets cross paths to interact with one another and exchange gifts in a manner comparable to StreetPassing, further incentivizing physical exercise and social engagement.
A lot of folk would be willing to buy something like this, but if Nintendo took the free to play route, there'd still be a lot of avenues to monetize the game in a way that would respect the player and still turn a profit.
Things like adopting your first dog being free and additional slots/space for more requiring a onetime fee. Cosmetics and non-essentials would be great for those looking to invest in their space or partake in contests, and those who have no interest don’t have to worry about being locked off or being given a hard time.
Add in a little social-media integration for good measure, and I think that a new Nintendogs for mobile would be a definite winner.