Nintendo Releases First Smartphone App, Miitomo


Nintendo has asked gamers to help rescue a princess, race go-karts and even play tennis with a motion-sensing controller.

Now, the maker of Mario is asking fans to do something new: share their weekend plans with friends.

Nintendo’s first smartphone app — Miitomo — launched Thursday in Japan, and will soon debut in other markets. It’s distinctly social, and at first glance, may seem like a bizarre turn for a company known for games.

The app asks questions of users, such as their favorite TV show, or what they hope to be doing in 10 years. They’re the sort of general queries that Nintendo says rarely come up in normal conversation.

The answers are then shared with friends in messages delivered by Miis — the cartoonish avatars featured in Wii Sports, one of Nintendo’s biggest hits of the last decade.

Some argue the app is true to Nintendo’s 120-year history.

“Nintendo came into this business as a toy company, and the reason they make video games is because they view those as essentially being the best toys they can build,” said games industry analyst Rob Fahey. “Miitomo fits the definition of a toy rather than a game quite well.”

Miitomo is the first of five apps Nintendo plans to release on smartphones and tablets over the next year, as it tries to diversify and rely less on dedicated game consoles.

The apps can’t come soon enough: Sales of the popular 3DS handheld are slowing, while the Wii U never even came close to the remarkable success of the Wii. Little is known about Nintendo’s next console, code-named “NX.”

“We absolutely see smart device apps as a key pillar for the company moving forward.” said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ravi Hiranand