Nintendo’s mobile gaming sensation, 2017’s Fire Emblem Heroes, achieved over 17.8 million downloads on iOS and Android and managed to rake in $1 billion for Nintendo’s mobile division. What’s even more impressive is the fact that the game is free-to-play (F2P) but without any pay-to-win mechanics, numerous F2P titles are known for today, like the infamous Diablo Immortal, which may cost players up to $100,000 to play properly.
But we’ll leave Activision Blizzard’s money-grabbing shenanigans for some other time; while they’re worth mentioning, we’ll focus more on Nintendo’s most lucrative free-to-play game ever. According to Kotaku, Fire Emblem Heroes became Nintendo’s first title to surpass a $1 billion dollar in lifetime global player spending, despite virtually having no pay-to-win mechanics implemented, which would otherwise hinder player progression for true F2P players. However, besides being the first game to rake in a billion, it’s now also Nintendo’s most financially successful game ever.
That’s because Fire Emblem Heroes made more money than Nintendo’s entire mobile catalog (Nintendo Switch catalog excluded) combined. In fact, if you take the combined lifetime earnings of Mario Kart Tour and Super Mario Run, you’d end up with a respectable sum of approx. $883 million, which is nice but still less than a billion USD. That’s more than 54% of total lifetime mobile revenue for Nintendo’s mobile division.
That’s an astonishing amount of money to come from a single title, which isn’t as downloaded as Nintendo’s other mobile IPs. For example, Fire Emblem Heroes has nearly 18 million downloads, compared to Super Mario Run, which sits at 310 million, and Mario Kart Tour, which was downloaded over 227 million times. It’s also worth mentioning that the latter stirred some fan dissatisfaction a few months ago, as the tracks from Kart Tour made it into another game, with significant downgrades to aesthetics.
Admittedly, when compared to other mobile titles, like PUBG Mobile, and Genshin Impact, a $1 billion figure in five years is quite slow. Both the former and the latter made over two billion in four years since their respective launch dates in 2018. It’s a considerable amount of money, even for a multi-billion company such as Nintendo, whose worth is currently estimated at $49.4 billion, so it’s safe to assume that the company’s staff and its higher-ups are currently taking notes.
Unfortunately, the future in the mobile gaming space doesn’t look promising for Nintendo since its numerous titles aren’t really picking up, and it would seem that the company has shifted its focus elsewhere — most notably the production of Nintendo Switch and its in-house gaming titles. And considering that the company’s handheld was the best-selling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it still is, why would Switch owners play any games on their Android or iOS devices.
For those that aren’t familiar with Fire Emblem Heroes, we’re talking about a free-to-play tactical role-playing spin-off of the Fire Emblem series featuring its characters. The game was released in February 2017 by Nintendo, and it became Nintendo’s highest-grossing mobile title — a trend that has continued throughout 2021 and into 2022.