Nintendo revealed that its first mobile game is Miitomo, which is delayed until March 2016 for a worldwide release after originally set to launch by the end of this year.
The company’s first release for smartphones will be a free-to-play game called “Miitomo” that connects and communicates with other players using Mii avatars, Nintendo announced during a corporate policy and financial results briefing on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan.
Tatsumi Kimishima, the new president of Nintendo, made the announcement during the briefing that was his first official public appearance since taking over the position on Sept. 16.
Miitomo is the first of five games that Nintendo plans to release on mobile devices by March 2017. While free-to-play, Miitomo will have purchasable add-ons. The remaining games will be paid versions that could be based on any of Nintendo’s popular franchises. Miitomo is the first in Nintendo’s partnership with DeNA, a Japanese mobile company. DeNA will handle the operations side of the mobile applications while Nintendo will design the games, according to Shigeru Miyamoto.
Miis are the user-created avatars that began on the Nintendo Wii home console in November 2006 and are now also on the Wii U and 3DS systems, used in applications like Miiverse and StreetPass.
A feature of Miitomo will be to reveal aspects about the user that their friends never knew, which the game will automatically share with others on the person’s friends list. The game will start by having the user create their Mii, then ask them questions about their likes, interests and hobbies. Those answers will be shared with people accepted to their friends list. Nintendo is calling this aspect of the game “friendly conversation starters” that can strengthen bonds by discovering common interests and learning about other people.
Shinya Takahashi, general manager of the company’s recently created Entertainment Planning & Development division, said that Nintendo will design ways for people to share details about themselves and their lives through the Miitomo game who wouldn’t normally be so open in doing so, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Nintendo delayed Miitomo to allow for more promotional time and better explanations of the application. The company will begin to promote its first mobile game after the holiday season. Nintendo will be focused on promoting its current lineup and unannounced games for the Wii U and 3DS until then, Kimishima said. Miitomo will also be tied into the new Nintendo Account system and My Nintendo membership, which will launch next March to coincide with the game’s release.
The goal of Nintendo expanding to the mobile market with titles like Miitomo is to increase the value of its IPs while driving awareness and sales to its own hardware and games, the company said.
At the news of Miitomo’s delay and details of its mobile strategy, Nintendo’s stock dropped close to 9 percent while shares for DeNA fell 15 percent.
The Nintendo and DeNA partnership began in March under former president Satoru Iwata, who died in July of cancer. Iwata had previously hinted that Nintendo’s first mobile game would be one that incorporated Miis.