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Nintendo president gaining confidence in iPhone gaming following big 'Mario,' 'Fire Emblem' launches

Nintendo has latest mobile game, 'Fire Emblem: Heroes', has so far earned the game company $5 million dollars since its launch on February 2, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima advised in an interview, with the Japanese firm increasing its confidence in producing apps for iOS and other platforms.




Speaking to Time, Kimishima explained the first three mobile titles to come out from the company are experiments with different aims. "Super Mario Run" and "Fire Emblem: Heroes" are being used by Nintendo to see how best to earn revenue from players, with each game taking wildly different approaches.

"Super Mario Run" had garnered 78 million downloads on iOS alone at the time of Nintendo's recent financial results, bringing in more than $53 million since its debut. Nintendo decided to avoid using typical free-to-play mechanics with the release, instead providing earlier levels for free, and requiring a $10 unlocking fee from players to access the rest of the game.

"With regards to how many people have paid money, we're hoping for more than 10 percent," said Kimishima. "While we haven't yet reached 10 percent, at this point we're somewhere north of halfway there."

In analysis of the player base, Kimishima notes that it was available in more than 150 countries, but the top 20 accounted for more than 90 percent of the revenue. "If we look further at the people who are paying for the game within those 20 countries, we're not at 10 percent, but the number is rising."

The relatively high unlocking charge is seen as a "viable way to do business," according to Kimishima. "I would also add that this is a new way of monetization and so not yet popular."

For "Fire Emblem: Heroes," which uses some free-to-play mechanics to generate revenue, Kimishima highlights the fact that downloads exceeded one million less than half a day after release, "and we're seeing revenue today at $5 million."

"We're experimenting with different types of monetization," suggests the company president over the two games. "As a result of these experiments with monetization styles, we're gaining what you might call confidence in our mobile business efforts."

"Miitomo," Nintendo's first mobile effort, was a different kind of experiment to the other two. "More than looking at profit, we were wondering if we could get people interested in Nintendo characters on their mobile devices, and the result is that we've seen a commensurate expansion in that interest."

Kimishima also spoke about Nintendo's three goals for its mobile business. The first is to use it to push the company's existing IP library to a new and large audience, one that may not have experienced Nintendo's ecosystem before.

"This is a great way to introduce them to our franchises and characters, and thereby bring them back to Nintendo's dedicated hardware as well as introduce them to Nintendo's expanded software library."

Secondly, Nintendo wants to make its mobile business a "pillar in and of itself," alongside its console hardware and gaming segments.

Lastly, "in the same way it worked for Pokemon," Kimishima wants to use mobile gaming to increase the sales of other titles that use the same characters. "In this way, we hope customers will purchase other related goods and services too. We want to use this synergy."

While it is busy preparing the launch of the Switch console in March, Nintendo has plans to expand its mobile gaming further, with the release of two or three iPhone games per year. Aside from this year's release of "Fire Emblem: Heroes," the arrival of "Super Mario Run" on Android, and the delayed launch of "Animal Crossing," Nintendo has yet to advise of any other future mobile games it expects to ship.