Nintendo can’t seem to catch a break these days. Whether it’s news regarding the Wii U’s eventual discontinuation or the fact that the NES Classic Edition is as difficult to find as the original Wii back in 2006, Nintendo has become something of a punching bag for gamers. This isn’t to say that the company hasn’t enjoyed success as of late. In 2016 alone, the same company that brought us Mario, Zelda and, if you’d like a more recent IP, Splatoon had a number of social advances.
One can make the argument that Nintendo’s move into the social app world truly started when Miitomo was released back in March. This free mobile app allows users to answer questions about themselves. It would ask you about everything from your favorite childhood toy to what you were doing only a few minutes ago. Users can also add their friends and answer questions provided by them. Despite this simple concept, it’s buoyed by a number of interesting features, such as the ability to dress up your Mii avatar in a variety of clothes.
Less than 24 hours after Miitomo launched in the United States, it amassed an audience of 3 million users. This level of growth was so tremendous, in fact, that the app beat out several other programs in the online stores that provided it. Miitomo showed that Nintendo, contrary to what many people believed, wasn’t afraid of the mobile market. The company simply needed the right start. These days, Miitomo isn’t used by as many people, which is unfortunate given how often it’s updated with features like private messaging. Regardless, it opened the doors for a program that made more of an impression.
This brings us to Pokemon GO and to say that this app gained attention would be an understatement. Its premise was one that Pokemon fans longed for: to catch the creatures in their games in real life. Augmented reality was used to bring this app to fruition and it wasn’t long until the world came down with a case of Pokemon fever. It took over both Apple’s App Store and Google Play in record time, amassing more than 10 million downloads in a week. Pokemon GO proved to be a social app in a unique fashion.
While catching Pokemon is the name of the game, players can join one of three factions, before overtaking “gyms” that were located in notable establishments. Pokemon GO managed to bring people together that wouldn’t have interacted otherwise. To expand on this, I live on Long Island and Argyle Park in Babylon Village was perhaps the most popular Pokemon GO spot in my area. It wasn’t far-fetched to see a few hundred people in the park catching Pokemon, collecting items, battling in the aforementioned gyms, or simply speaking to one another. Pokemon GO elicited a type of social activity that I never saw from a smartphone program before. This might be the app’s greatest claim to fame.
Nintendo’s first two big mobile apps showed that the company was serious about getting people connected. This isn’t to say that the company is done with the mobile market. Super Mario Run, for example, will be released next month as Nintendo’s next killer app. Seeing as how this will be more like a game than a social platform, however, one has to wonder how this notable video game company will bring people together next. 2016 is almost over, but any online marketing firm will agree that Nintendo made an undeniable impact.
What is your take on Miitomo and Pokemon GO as social apps? Have you since stopped using them, or are they still opened up every now and then? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
See also: Uncovering Pokemon Go Viral Strategies
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