Nintendo’s first foray into mobile gaming has been rocky. Their first app, Miitomo, is now over two months old. It exploded onto the market but now it’s failing to retain users. Mobile analytics site SurveyMonkey posted an excellent breakdown of Miitomo’s struggles.
Thanks to Nintendo’s strong brand recognition, Miitomo enjoyed a top five download ranking during its first week of launch. It easily shot to #1 on both iOS and Android app stores. Everyone was talking about Nintendo’s first mobile app.
Miitomo lets you create your own custom Mii character, dressing them in fun and goofy outfits. The app is more social media than actual game, as you make friends, answer each other’s questions, and take silly pictures. After a month Nintendo boasted over 10 million unique users had tried the app. But the novelty has since worn off.
According to SurveyMonkey, Miitomo has nearly reached a 50% weekly churn. “Weekly churn” means half the user base doesn’t come back and open the app again the following week. “For some apps that don’t need frequent use this isn’t a problem,” explains SurveyMonkey’s Arjun Lall. “But for games like Miitomo that are designed for frequent use, churn at this level foreshadows a quick decline.”
This rapid decline could quickly spell a death sentence for an app built entirely around social interaction with other users. “Much of the value of the game comes from the presence of your friends,” Lall continues. “As the game declines things get worse and worse for the remaining players who end up living in a ghost town.”
Retaining fans isn’t normally a big issue for Nintendo, but mobile gaming still represents a largely untested frontier for the Japanese company. Hopefully upcoming Nintendo mobile apps (and actual games) Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and Pokémon Go will fare better.