In 2015, Nintendo decided to make its foray into the smartphone gaming market, starting with the release of Miitomo, an app that allowed users to customize their Mii and interact with other players. The app was eventually discontinued in 2018, and now, five years after its initial venture in the mobile world, Nintendo seems to be backing away from it, according to a report by Business Insider.
Nintendo entered the market in 2015 mostly because of the struggle it was going through with the failure of the Wii U. However, the company's games on smartphones were never all that successful, especially compared to other big names on those platforms. Super Mario Run, the first big-name title on smartphones, opted for a one-time payment to unlock the entire experience, and that didn't resonate too well with the smartphone market. More recently, Mario Kart Tour took a radically different approach to monetization with a subscription model, which was heavily criticized.
Nintendo's inability to strive in the smartphone gaming business became especially apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the company's titles falling in revenue while many others grew. In May, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said the company isn't "necessarily looking to continue releasing many new applications for the mobile market", a significant change in stance after it had promised to release two to three titles each year back in 2018. For the current fiscal year, the company said it will be focusing on titles that are already available, and according to Serkan Toto, a consultant in Tokyo, "Nintendo's pipeline is empty" following the release of Mario Kart Tour.
Aside from the fact that it never really hit it big with mobile gaming, Nintendo has been experiencing a lot more success in console gaming with the Nintendo Switch, with hardware sales having already surpassed many of the company's previous consoles in terms of sales. Animal Crossing: New Horizons became especially popular during the pandemic, and helped the Switch beat Nintendo's sales forecast for the first quarter of the year. In that light, the company likely feels less need to rely on revenue from mobile games, though it remains to be seen if it manages to keep that momentum in the coming months and years.