Miitomo is Almost Ready to Go, But Where's the Rest of Nintendo's Mobile Strategy?

Miitomo is Almost Ready to Go, But Where's the Rest of Nintendo's Mobile Strategy?

Miitomo pre-registration is about to start, but what else does Nintendo have up its sleeve for mobile?

Nintendo's social mobile app, Miitomo, is slated for a March release. Though the app's gone through one delay already, Nintendo seems confident enough about the new deadline to share its pre-release plans.

"Starting Feb. 17, people will be able to pre-register for Miitomo by signing up for the new Nintendo Account service using their existing email, social media accounts or current Nintendo Network IDs," the company stated via a press release. "People who pre-register will be among the first to be notified about the availability of Miitomo when it launches in March. Nintendo will offer a special Miitomo bonus to anyone who signs up for a Nintendo Account between Feb. 17 and launch."

Also noted in the press release: Miitomo's launch date will serve as the birthday for My Nintendo, a rewards program meant to replace Club Nintendo. My Nintendo is "a more comprehensive service that rewards users for interacting with Nintendo products and services in a variety of ways," and Miitomo will interact with it in a yet-unspecified manner.

Miitomo is, of course, the very start of Nintendo's big (and arguably vital) plans for mobile platforms. We're supposed to see four more mobile titles from the company by the end of March 2017. That's great, except -- when are we going to get to see something mobile-related from Nintendo that's not Miitomo?

I actually believe Miitomo will be a hit, certainly in Japan. Contrary to investors who believe Nintendo's mobile debut should have involved Mario and Zelda, the simple yet highly customizable (and surprisingly expressive!) Mii avatar is a perfect fit for phones and tablets. Miitomo also resembles Tomodachi Life, a game about relationships that's capable of engaging you on a deep emotional level.

Moreover, Nintendo nailed down the art of online social platforms long before your grandmother knew what a Facebook was. "Bark Mode" for Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS must've been a hoot to use in a dense Japanese city. The Nintendo 3DS's Mii Plaza isn't perfect, but picking up StreetPasses is never unexciting. And while Miiverse, uh, has its problems, its allowance for creative expression makes for a sense of community that's absent on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

So I'm confident Nintendo will shine with its newfound LTE hookup. That doesn't mean I don't want to see what else it has up its sleeve, and how it intends to monetize those apps. The mobile marketplace is blisteringly fast, and Nintendo is definitely of the tortoise persuasion. In fact, the press release's emphasis on "the end of March 2017" for the other four apps smells like a weasel-date that's almost certain to be punted somewhere further along the year.

Nintendo's commitment to quality is commendable and vital for the preservation of its reputation, but at the same time, it can't exactly afford to dawdle.

My pessimism is likely unwarranted. First, the NX is likely tied to Nintendo's mobile destiny, so the reveal of one will probably fuel the reveal of the other.

Second, it's not at all uncommon for a mobile game or app developer to announce a product on Monday, then release it that Thursday. Maybe Nintendo's just settling into the market's "BOOM! Surprise!" mentality, and Miitomo received a long introduction because it's Nintendo's first.

I still want to know what's in the works, though. Looking forward to Mario Teaches Texting!

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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