Nintendo has produced two of the hottest mobile gaming apps on the market in the last three months in Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run, but their respective financial success is surprising. Fire Emblem Heroes made $5 million in one week after it launched in early February despite being expected to be more of a niche offering, while the heavily touted Super Mario Run has failed to meet Nintendo’s expectations. That point was reiterated again today, when the Wall Street Journal’s Tokyo-based technology reporter, Takashi Mochizuki, took to Twitter with a quote from a top Nintendo executive:
Nintendo chief: # of Fire Emblem downloads less than 1/10 of Mario, but revenue is bigger than Mario.
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) April 27, 2017
While at this point the fact that Fire Emblem Heroes is the more successful game won’t be shocking to those who have followed the mobile gaming market closely, the massive discrepancy between downloads is unexpected. Both titles are free downloads with microtransactions, and both Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run use an in-game store to facilitate players and police their ability to progress through each game.
The differences in how each game goes about trying to part gamers with their money might be the key, however. Despite the fact that Nintendo has gone on record already as saying that it prefers Super Mario Run‘s business model for mobile games, Fire Emblem Heroes doesn’t outwardly prevent players from progressing, which might be a reason for its sustained profitability. Fire Emblem Heroes offers players extra in-game currency for new characters and faster down times, but it is possible to play the game for free – meanwhile, Super Mario Run forces gamers to buy into it to progress beyond the first three levels and initial boss.
The fact that Fire Emblem Heroes adds content at least twice a month as a rule has also kept players engaged and interested, with a constantly deepening roster of iconic heroes serving as the biggest draw to spending money in-game. Super Mario Run hasn’t laid out a specific content release schedule thus far, and has already repeated events just a few months into its life cycle.
Despite the discrepancies in expectations for both games, Nintendo can’t possibly be upset with owning two of the hottest new mobile gaming apps in the world, even if they are competing with each other at times. Nintendo’s mobile games were one of the most exciting – and profitable – elements of the company’s latest financial statement, and both games seem poised to pave the way for even more mobile gaming content from Nintendo in the near future.
Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run are available now on iOS and Android mobile devices.