“Gatcha” style games where players utilize in-game currency to essentially gamble for random elements such as units and items are among the most lucrative games in the mobile market. Nintendo currently only has a few mobile games, but the large discrepancy in revenue earned by Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes paints a clear picture of this phenomena. As reported by Gamasutra, however, Nintendo has no intention of focusing entirely on the gatcha model and instead plans to base its games’ revenue models on what best fits the “characteristics of the IP.”
In a study performed by Sensor Tower, a company which provides “Authoritative insights into the global app economy”, Fire Emblem Heroes was found to have made more than 5 times the amount of revenue that Super Mario Run earned in its first year. Here’s a graph that provides a more visual representation of these numbers:
With the greater financial success of Fire Emblem Heroes, a question was posed about the ethics of gatcha style games and Nintendo’s perception of the issue at a recent investor Q&A. Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima responded with the following:
“When deciding on how to charge for a smart-device application, we consider each one individually based on factors like the mechanics of the game, the characteristics of the IP it uses, who we think the consumers will be, their needs, and so on. With Fire Emblem Heroes, there are many passionate fans of the series, which is especially popular among consumers in their 20s and 30s. So we set the target age to 13 and older, then aimed for a format that would allow consumers to have a deep enjoyment of the game according to their individual playstyles.”
Kimishima also noted:
“With these sort of goals, we want to offer applications that meet consumer demands while pursuing payment methods which consumers find to be fair so that this can grow to be a pillar of our business.”
These days, there are so many gatcha games on the Appstore and Google Play that it’s beginning to seem as if companies felt a certain need to have a gameplay and monetization strategy that was directly tied to gambling. Given the current market, it definitely is a proven formula for keeping players engaged and therefore enables the game to be competitive. In the end, there are only a certain number of hours in a day right? Gamers need to choose which game they will play within that limited period of time. Just take a look at the top 3 grossing games on Google Play in Japan – they’re all gatcha games.
Nintendo saying that they will still be taking a “best fit” approach to deciding how to correctly pair a monetization strategy with a new game says a lot about the company. It definitely shows that simply earning the highest possible revenue isn’t the only guiding force behind their decisions. For a gamer that grew up during a time where the cost of playing a game was simply the price of the cartridge, this means a lot.
Featured Image Credits: YouTube