Mario Arrives To Mobile: What Does This Mean For The Industry?
At the Apple event last September 7 in California, USA, Nintendo chief game designer Shigeru Miyamoto announced to the world that Mario would be arriving to the iOS this coming December 2016, with an Android version right behind sometime in 2017. The Mario game comes in the form of a 2D endless runner titled Super Mario Run in which the famed plumber will be set in his familiar platformer world, but only he’s automatically running to the right side. The game can be played with only one hand, albeit with a lot of discomfort if played in the much bigger iPad. While the game isn’t exactly groundbreaking in terms of gameplay innovation, it’s a huge stance by Nintendo, which is primarily known for its handheld consoles — the very platform that mobiles are threatening to push aside permanently.
Actually, Nintendo’s foray into the mobile gaming industry was kicked off by its partnership with big-time Japanese mobile games company DeNA back in March 2015. And Nintendo’s blessing to allow its Pokemon characters to be handled by people outside the family, so to speak, paved the way for the meteoric rise of Pokemon Go (Nintendo didn’t have a direct hand in the game). These moves are all catered to bring back casual gamers, who all jumped ship when the true potential of mobile gaming was unlocked.
It’s no secret that the video game industry is just a copycat industry where companies usually follow what’s trending. So it’s actually not that hard to envision other big-name companies in the mold of Nintendo to follow suit in lending their popular intellectual properties (IPs) to the mobile gaming scene. But what does it really mean if popular IPs crosses over to mobiles, both for the big guns and the smaller indie developers?
For The Big Companies…
1. More Exposure To Popular IPs
Okay, Mario is a bad example of a popular IP being introduced to a wider audience, because the character is already well-known around the world, even to non-gamers. But if companies like Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft place more effort into bringing high-quality games based on their popular IPs — like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Assassin’s Creed, respectively — to mobiles, then they will be more exposed. And this could lead to even more people lining up to buy their games in consoles or PC, because, really, if you truly enjoyed their games in your mobile platform, wouldn’t you feel the slightest bit curious about the other games in the series?
2. More Money-Grabbing Potential
These companies are already making a boatload of money from Pre-Orders, Season Passes, Downloadable Content (DLC) Packs, Exclusive Bundles, and other post-release content, so imagine if they have full access to the in-game micro-transactions that’s typically present in most mobile games today. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? More people playing very popular games translates to more people getting jealous of the content other people have, and that translates to even more money in the bank for these companies.
3. Less Chances For New IPs
Since their focus will now shift to milking their popular IPs as much as possible until you puke, they will be less inclined producing and trying out new ones. And that could lead to stagnation where the video game industry is simply littered with endless sequels, remakes, and reboots, quite similar to the current setup of Hollywood and movies. If it comes to that, no doubt interest will wane because nobody will have the heart to stomach a Final Fantasy XLIII or a Call of Duty: Black Ops 43.
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