Concerned with appearing too greedy, Nintendo has asked its mobile partner to adjust microtransactions to keep players from spending too much.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo asked the publishers of Dragalia Lost to adjust its microtransaction-driven character lottery to players won’t spend so much trying to score rare characters. “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game,” one official from that publisher, CyberAgent Inc, said. “If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”
The Journal’s sources say Nintendo fears that massive amounts of player spending will damage its reputation and brand image – premised as it is on being the friendliest face in the industry – and would rather miss out on revenue to avoid being seen as greedy. Nintendo did not confirm any specific conversations, but CyberAgent confirmed that revenue for Dragalia Lost has fallen short of expectations.
Nintendo did respond to say that it continues to chat with its partners about “various things, not just limited to payments, to deliver high-quality fun to consumers."
In the past, Nintendo has maintained its desire that mobile titles like Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will introduce new players to some of its biggest franchises, with the hope that it will draw them to their console experiences.
"Certainly it's about getting an American child who's ten to have a great Super Mario experience," outgoing president of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime said back in June 2017. "But it's also about getting that adult in India who's never had access to a Nintendo platform but has heard about this thing called Super Mario, to get them engaged. China, Korea, all of these markets that historically have not had great access to our content now have access to our IP. That's a key part of our mobile strategy."
All of Nintendo's mobile games have been free to play or start, with microtransactions optional, but so far it hasn’t managed to produce a true mobile hit. Miitomo was shut down after two years and Super Mario Run, a game that was free-to-start with a paywall for additional levels reportedly did not meet expectations.
Fire Emblem Heroes has fared better. Using a more traditional microtransaction model where players can pay to acquire new hero characters, the game brought in around $400 million in worldwide revenue since launch. That figure easily dwarfs the revenue from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which made only $42 million over a nine month period, and has been criticized for its excessive reliance on microtransactions for players to make progress.
Dragalia Lost also seems to be struggling. CyberAgent Inc lowered its projections for the 2019 fiscal year from $268 million to $179 million, attributing this lowered forecast to Dragalia Lost not maintaining the momentum it had at launch.
Nintendo has two other mobile games in development for 2019: Mario Kart Tour and Dr. Mario World .