Nintendo’s mobile strategy had so far been predictable. Super Mario Run launched their mobile strategy using the iconic character to deliver an immediate impact, followed by the release of Fire Emblem Heroes some months later which simplified a franchise for a more accessible experience. Using mobile phones to introduce Nintendo’s famous franchises was a clever move, and one which has so far been successful; the impact it might have had on Nintendo Switch sales is unknown, but the sudden shift in tide for Nintendo highlights a positive correlation.
Dragalia Lost changes everything. This isn’t a franchise that Nintendo is pushing before the release of a Nintendo Switch game, this is the beginning of an entirely new game. Nintendo has recently announced it will be working with Cygames on games within the mobile market and this is the first one to be announced. This sudden change in strategy suggests a more serious tone towards the mobile market from the gaming giant, developing unique games for the platform.
Even the design matches the demographic that Nintendo seems to be targeting more potently. Dragalia Lost has that animé touch to its art-style; the big eyes, small nose features that were a characterization of the recent Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Animé is incredibly popular globally among the teenage demographic, and while it’s nothing new for Nintendo to produce games that have an animé art-style, since the 3DS there has seemingly been an increase in the style, revealing a market that Nintendo is hoping to increase its share in.
Curiously, this could inspire a Nintendo Switch version of the game, showing an alteration to Nintendo’s original strategy, launching new ideas on the mobile first. Due to the relatively short life of a mobile game, investment doesn’t need to be anything close to a Switch game, revealing quite a clever marketing strategy. Testing a future franchise on the mobile platform helps to decrease expenditure on what could become another Doshin the Giant, or renew a confident investment into a game that could become the next Splatoon. Essentially, what was once seen as an uncharacteristic erratic move by Nintendo is an entirely cautious approach to new games in the future.
With the waters tested and few storms forecasted, expect an increase in activity on the mobile platform from Nintendo. The Switch has been a success and there will be a lot of ideas for games flurrying around the minds at Nintendo HQ. In reality, Dragalia Lost is a standard RPG involving sword, magic, and dragons. To this extent, this move isn’t about the game itself but about the potential impact on the Nintendo Switch. If Dragalia Lost receives a positive reception and gets plenty of downloads, it would be strange not to see the title made into a Switch game. Likewise, if it establishes itself well on the mobile market, it could further Nintendo’s confidence to experiment with the platform and transform the mobile market entirely.
Nintendo remains a toy company, and like we’ve seen with Labo, they can innovate an idea out of cardboard. While it might be too soon to predict Labo for iPhone or Samsung, there’s that kid inside every Nintendo fan that is waiting for that spark of madness that comes with the company. Dragalia Lost, not for what it is but for where it is, will be the most ambitious title for Nintendo this year. If it’s a success, mobile gaming will become a much more competitive platform and will transform into a battleground for ideas and creativity for the future AAA titles. Testing a game on the billion to sell an improved version to the million; strangely logical.