Nintendo today released its first app in a bid to capture the growing audience of mobile users.
Miitomo is less a game and more a social media app in which you create your own character known as a Mii. Yes, the same cartoonish characters the company used in some of its Wii console games. Your Mii asks you a series of questions to learn about you and build a personality. Players can then interact with other Miis to learn more about each other and find common interests.
Available for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices on Thursday, Miitomo is free to play but offers in-app purchases. The app is currently up for grabs only in Japan but will expand to other countries, including the US, UK and parts of Europe.
Mobile users have increasingly turned to smartphones and tablets for their gaming fix. Nintendo resisted the move to mobile apps, instead focusing on games for its Wii console and handheld devices. The company, which has played third fiddle behind Sony and Microsoft in the gaming market, needs to make an impact in the mobile app arena to remain relevant.
Nintendo is also counting on its membership service, known as Nintendo Account, to generate demand for its apps as well as its gaming consoles. The service connects players across different devices, PCs, smartphones and Nintendo consoles. Users can also save their game data to the cloud, so they can hop between console and smartphone without losing their place.
Miitomo is the first of five mobile apps that Nintendo will release over the next 12 months. The other four apps will be games and will tap into some of Nintendo's most popular franchises.
Nintendo believes both teens and adults will want to use Miitomo on a daily basis.
"We believe we created a number of elements that are very sticky for the consumer," Reggie Fils-Aimé, president of the company's US division, told The Wall Street Journal. "If we are successful in creating something sticky and shareable, we believe it will break through."