Nintendo has made almost $1.8bn in total global mobile game revenue since it entered the market in September 2017.
Data provided exclusively to mobilegamer.biz by Sensor Tower confirms that lifetime global player spending in Nintendo’s mobile games now stands at almost $1.8bn – $1,797,000,000, to be precise.
That’s total global lifetime revenue from Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Mario Kart Tour, Dragalia Lost, Super Mario Run and Dr. Mario World combined.
Fire Emblem Heroes is way out in front in terms of lifetime billings, with $983m since it launched on February 2 2017. Second and third are close: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has earned Nintendo $276m to date, with Mario Kart Tour raking in $270m so far, though it should be noted Animal Crossing has been on the market much longer, having launched in November 2017. Mario Kart Tour arrived in September 2019.
Dragalia Lost ($167m), Super Mario Run ($87m) and Dr. Mario World ($14m) complete Nintendo’s all-time revenues line-up, and show just how far Nintendo’s decision to go ‘free-to-start’ with Super Mario Run has placed a ceiling on its earning potential.
Look at the lifetime downloads charts, again provided exclusively to mobilegamer.biz by Sensor Tower, and Super Mario Run’s $9.99 unlock looks like a missed opportunity. With 307m global lifetime downloads, the platformer unsurprisingly comes out as Nintendo’s most-downloaded mobile game, but Mario Kart Tour’s 224m downloads since its 2019 release – and its regularly updates and in-game events – suggest that the kart racer will overtake Super Mario Run in the not-too-distant future.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’s 65m is perhaps a little low, considering what a phenomenon the Switch title was just as the pandemic hit. It doesn’t help that Nintendo rarely promotes or even mentions the title, of course.
Fire Emblem Heroes’ 18m downloads and $983m in lifetime billings makes it the most effective monetiser of the group by a huge margin. Dragalia Lost is closing after 4m downloads and $167m lifetime revenues, and Dr. Mario World never really got started, with $14m in revenue in return for 13m downloads.
We also looked at revenue trajectory over the last three years for Nintendo’s big three, Fire Emblem Heroes, Mario Kart Tour and Animal Crossing. The picture here is a little harder to judge, thanks to 2020’s pandemic-inspired bump, but predictably Fire Emblem Heroes, Mario Kart Tour and Animal Crossing are all down in year-on-year billings for 2021 compared to the prior year.
The Sensor Tower data, rounded up to the nearest million, shows Fire Emblem Heroes’ billings unchanged from 2019-2020 at $154m, but down YoY for 2021 by 5.8% to $145m – a very consistent product, clearly, with neither a huge bump in 2020 or drop afterwards.
Conversely, Mario Kart Tour and Animal Crossing both saw good pandemic revenue bumps: Mario Kart Tour had a phenomenal start in late 2019, taking $74m in revenue by the end of the year, then rising 35.1% in 2020 to hit $100m; Animal Crossing saw a smaller boost from the pandemic, a 23.8% rise from 2019’s revenues of $63m to 2020’s $78m.
Mario Kart Tour’s 2021 revenues dropped YoY 23% to $77m, with Animal Crossing down to $59m for 2021, a YoY drop of 24.4%, slightly bigger than Mario Kart Tour.
With Dr. Mario World already closed and Dragalia Lost sunsetting soon, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing and Mario Kart Tour will be Nintendo’s only three remaining live games on iOS and Android.
We also looked at Niantic collaboration Pikmin Bloom, which is published under Niantic’s account, but it has hardly set the world on fire – Sensor Tower told us that it has grossed just $5.3m globally since launch in October 2021.
Is Nintendo losing interest in mobile? It certainly seems that way. As live service games, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Mario Kart Tour continue to be updated regularly, but naturally updates are slowing for Super Mario Run, currently around one every few months. New mobile titles now feel pretty unlikely, and that once-rumoured Zelda mobile game feels like ancient history at this point.
It’s worth remembering that the 2015 DeNa partnership that began Nintendo’s mobile experiment was forged during a really bumpy time for Nintendo. It was still reeling from the disastrous Wii U launch, and 3DS was fading. It had to be seen to do something, and mobile was that something.
By the time Apple’s September 2016 keynote rolled around, where Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage to reveal Super Mario Run, Nintendo was preparing to launch the Switch. The success of that, it turned out, meant that Nintendo didn’t really need mobile as much as it thought it did.
There’s also a little squeamishness at Nintendo around relying on high spending players, too. Its family-friendly image is at risk of getting tarnished in an aggressively monetised Mario Kart or Animal Crossing game than it is in a Fire Emblem one, and you can see that in the figures.
Amid Nintendo’s push to expand the reach of its IP – penning partnerships to make LEGO sets, a theme park and a Hollywood movie – mobile seems to have been left behind. Switch continues to sell well five years into its lifespan, so there’s no real need for Nintendo to get its IP out there on mobile to hook people in – it’s already doing it well enough with its own hardware.
Nintendo simply doesn’t need mobile right now. And unless there’s another Wii U-like disaster on the horizon, it’s hard to see that changing.