MIDiA Research's lead analyst for research on games and the mobile content economy Karol Severin shares his views on Nintendo's recent game announcements and how they look set to prepare the platform holder for the launch of its Online Service. He can be reached @karel_kayo
Nintendo made a number of game title announcements in recent days and weeks. They include an array of game deployment models: an exclusive release of Arms; the first Pokemon-themed titled Pokken Tournament; a Pokemon RPG game for Switch, as well as Nintendo’s own Super Mario Odyssey and third party games, like Rocket League or FIFA 18. The recently announced title mix serves as an indicator of Nintendo’s content strategy for Switch.
The overarching theme of the announced titles and partnerships is that all, in one way or another, prepare Nintendo Switch for its subscription service launch. Naturally, Nintendo will be looking to secure stable subscription revenues and low churn rates. In doing so, it is putting an emphasis on four key aspects regarding its catalogue:
Leveraging the hybrid console/mobile features of Switch
One of the key unique selling points for Nintendo Switch will be a games catalogue that leverages the product’s hybrid console/mobile features. In order to demonstrate the product’s entertainment value, Switch will need an inflow of games that are developed with the hybrid format and its controls in mind.
The announced upcoming development of an RPG Pokemon game for Switch is a perfect example.While users could potentially enjoy roaming the real world catching Pokemon, they could then experience a much more immersive training and combat experience in the comfort of their living rooms and in front of their large screens. Before Nintendo has enough hybrid?first games, it will have to carefully balance the mobile/console skew of titles on offer. If there were too many titles in favour of one or the other gaming format, it could demean the competitive advantage of the hybrid product Nintendo is hoping to establish.
Encouraging recurring play across formats
The Switch title selection further focuses on recurring play, while balancing the often conflicting mobile and console gamer preferences. FIFA 18 and Rocket League announcements for Switch are strong examples of this. Firstly, their competitive nature gives users a reason to keep coming back (as opposed to a single player game with a linear story which they have already finished).
Secondly, the nature of FIFA and Rocket League allows for recurring sessions in and outside the home. While both games look great on the large screen and can be enjoyed in several hours?long sessions, users can also opt for a snack?size entertainment dose in form of a five minute match. The aim is to offer games that users can enjoy both in and outside the home.
Franchise game worlds like Pokemon and Super Mario will play an important role because their established brands offer users proven entertainment across genres and formats (mobile and console). Due to the popularity of these brands, their new titles are likely to continue resonating with audiences in the future – improving Nintendo’s chances of keeping subscribers entertained for the long?term.
As platform holders put greater strategic emphasis on their subscription services, exclusive content is going to play an increasingly important role to keep product offerings distinct. Producing a hit like Arms which is available exclusively on Nintendo’s platform is great timing for Nintendo because it has to make its content catalogue as strong and distinct as possible before the paid subscription service fully launches in 2018.