Last January, Nintendo announced plans to develop and release a Mario Kart game for mobile devices. The upcoming mobile racer, dubbed Mario Kart Tour, was originally planned to launch on March 31st, but Nintendo announced its delay at the start of this year, almost exactly one year after it was first announced. Mario Kart Tour is now expected to launch sometime this Summer, but some lucky gamers will get to try it out in the very near future.
Nintendo recently opened up a Japanese website where fans can register for a chance to participate in an upcoming beta for Mario Kart Tour. Applications can be submitted from now until May 8th, and the beta itself will kick off on May 22nd. The beta will apparently be available in both Japan and the United States, but no other territories have been confirmed. At this time it seems only Android devices will get the beta, though perhaps that will change at a later date. The full release is still expected to come sometime this Summer.
Last May, Epic Games teamed up with Marvel for a crossover event that brought the villainous Thanos and his all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to Fortnitefor a limited time event. Players could find and equip the gauntlet to transform into Thanos himself and wreak havoc on their opponents with overpowered punches and laser attacks.
The event was short-lived, but it may soon be returning. Data miners have been digging through the version 8.30 update, and they’ve discovered new kill and death feed messages that mention Thanos. Last year’s event kicked off shortly after Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, so it would make sense to bring it back around the same time that Avengers: Endgame begins its run later this month.
Pokémon GO exploded onto the scene in the Summer of 2016. The monster-catching augmented reality adventure quickly gained a passionate following of tens of millions of players, and it absolutely dominated social media for months after its release. Developer Niantic has managed to keep the game popular with regular updates adding new features and new Pokémon, and that continued support has helped it reach a major milestone.
According to a press release from The Pokemon Company (issued as part of a preview of the Pokemon Center in Singapore), Pokémon GO has been downloaded over one billion times. That’s nearly one download for every seven people on the entire planet, though some people have certainly downloaded the game on multiple devices. Pokémon GO has far surpassed Niantic’s wildest ambitions, and there’s no end to its success in sight.
Gaming’s greatest rivals are about to go head-to-head once again, now that the Olympics are coming to their home turf. Having reclaimed the video game licensing rights just in time for the occasion, SEGA has announced that their own Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo’s Mario will pick up where they left off in Rio with the upcoming Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The reveal dropped at this year’s SEGA Fes with a big announcement trailer, with the next Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game set to launch this winter in Japan for the Nintendo Switch. As previous entries’ western release windows weren’t too distant, the same should be expected internationally, pending official word from Nintendo or SEGA.
The “Play 2020” trailer also featured other Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games tie-in titles published by SEGA. On top of the main Nintendo Switch game, SEGA also announced a Mario & Sonic at Tokyo 2020 arcade game for next year, a separate Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for mobile devices, and the Tokyo 2020 game for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch for Asia this summer and worldwide in 2020.
SEGA retained the license for tie-in video games for every edition since the Beijing 2008 Olympics, back when the Mario and Sonic crossover sports games first began, with new entries every two years on contemporary Nintendo platforms. At least, this was the case until 2018, when Ubisoft got the license for the Winter 2018 Olympics-themed expansion for Steep.
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 to August 9 next year. Japan is the home to a ton of beloved pop culture icons and franchises renowned around the globe and spread out across innumerable manga, anime, and games. The country prided itself on these during the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony, showing off the likes of Hello Kitty!, Doraemon, and Mario himself, among others. While I can’t claim to have 2020 vision, the returning Mario & Sonic franchise might just be the tip of the media crossover iceberg on the horizon.
Are you looking forward to picking up Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the Switch? What kind of otherwise impossible crossovers would you like to see happen during next year’s sporting festivities? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Last year, Nintendo teamed up with mobile developer Cygames to launch Dragalia Lost. The new RPG has achieved a modest level of success, but Cygames hasn’t been happy with the output, reportedly due to Nintendo making them tone down the microtransactions. One good way to boost a game’s popularity is with crossover content from another franchise, and Nintendo has just announced plans for exactly that.
Six months into the life of Dragalia Lost, it’s crossing over with another popular Nintendo RPG series, this time of the tactical variety. The latest episode of Dragalia Digest ended with a teaser for Fire Emblem Heroes content. Unfortunately, very little of substance was revealed. Further details, including which characters are crossing over, will be announced at a later date.
It has only been a little over two years since the launch of the crowdfunded Shantae: Half-Genie Hero. This fourth installment of WayForward’s acclaimed indie series was the titular half-genie’s breakout onto HD back in 2016. It made for Shantae’s biggest adventure yet, what with additional expansions, storylines, and playable characters cumulating towards the all-inclusive Ultimate Edition last year.
With the franchise milestones set with Half-Genie Hero, excitement towards the future of Shantae has continued to build, and it all came to a head tonight with a special announcement from WayForward. The studio has revealed that Shantae 5 is in active development, and set to launch on Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and the recently unveiled Apple Arcade with an estimated release window for later this year — no Kickstarter campaigns necessary this time!
What do you hope to see in the indie darling’s upcoming adventure? Share your thoughts on Shantae 5 with us in the comments below.
No Our Verdict
Today we're thrilled to announce Shantae 5! You're invited to join Shantae in a brand-new adventure later this year on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC… AND the newly announced Apple Arcade! Stay tuned for more details! Learn more about Apple Arcade at https://t.co/KwXqXtb2ftpic.twitter.com/SFc1iOswHT
During today’s livestreamed presentation, Apple unveiled their long-rumored video game subscription service. Unlike Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud, this will not be a streaming service. Instead, Apple Arcade offers subscribers access to a vast library of games that can be downloaded and then played at any time without requiring a constant internet connection.
Apple Arcade will launch with over 100 “new and exclusive games” that won’t be available on “any other mobile platform or any other subscription service.” New games will be added to the library regularly, and it will all continue to be available for a single subscription price. Apple is promising no ads and no post-subscription purchases like DLC, microtransactions, or paying for a bigger library. It’s unclear what the subscription will cost at this time.
You can access Apple Arcade on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, jumping from one platform to the other without losing your spot in a game. Whatever your device of choice, Apple says they won’t collect any data (such as your game playing habits) “without your consent.” Apple Arcade will launch sometime this Fall in over 150 countries and regions. The launch lineup will include the following games shown off today:
Little Orpheus by Sumo Digital/The Chinese Room
The Artful Escape by Annapurna Interactive/Beethoven & Dinosaur
The Pathless by Annapurna Interactive/Giant Squid
ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree by Wildboy Studios
LEGO Brawls by LEGO/RED Games
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm by Cornfox & Bros.
Sonic Racing by SEGA®/HARDlight Studios
Box Project by AQUIRIS
Frogger in Toy Town by Konami
Projection: First Light by Blowfish Studios/Shadowplay Studios
Mr. Turtle by Illusion Labs
FANTASIAN by Mistwalker Corporation
Enter The Construct by Directive Games Limited
Beyond a Steel Sky by Revolution Software
Sayonara Wild Hearts by Annapurna Interactive/Simogo
“I am not a gamer” probably wasn’t the best choice of words for Google CEO Sundar Pichai to open the company’s tell-all presentation at the 2019 Game Developers’ Conference yesterday. Nonetheless, there might not be words any more fitting to illustrate the mega-corporation’s foray into gaming with the reveal of their new gaming platform, dubbed “Stadia.” Unlike the big three with Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, this aspiring fourth player is forgoing the traditional route of home consoles and intends to upend the gaming industry as we know it with an exclusively digital, streaming-based service. “The Future of Gaming” is not a claim to make lightly, so let’s take a closer look into Google Stadia and what it means to accomplish in the industry.
Google Stadia tried to make a good first impression yesterday, and on the surface level, I will say it accomplished just that. With a catchy name, simple premise, and sleek controller design, it also presented the following:
To the average consumer, Stadia spoke of the ability to pick up and play games off of any device that runs Google Chrome, which sounds like a great idea on paper. And not simple games like the running dinosaur when you’re not connected to the internet (more on that later), but rather big-budget AAA titles like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and id Software’s upcoming Doom Eternal.
To developers, it spoke of untapped potential and no barriers. Cross-platform multiplayer, transferrable save data without console barriers, games that can host up to a thousand simultaneous players in a single lobby, a wide variety of development tools right out of the gate—if studios can think it, Stadia can make it happen.
To players on top of game performance and graphics, Stadia spoke of graphical prowess and visual fidelity that far outshines the high-end PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. The two most powerful consoles currently on the market were snidely referred to as being from “the last generation.” Stadia plans to run games at 4K and 60fps by default, and then evolve to the presumed future industry standards of 8K and 120+fps.
To content creators old and new trying to make ends meet, it spoke of integration with YouTube in recording in-game footage at 4K and 60fps, looking up walkthroughs, hosting seamless multiplayer matches, and sharing save-states with your audience. It spoke of high-quality offerings coming soon for creators to enjoy under Google’s newly founded studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, run by former Ubisoft and Electronic Arts exec Jade Raymond.
This all sounds way too good to be true. After all, deals with the devil often come with a catch or two.
It’s clear as day what Google is poised to accomplish with Stadia. It isn’t just looking to join the big three in competing for your hard-earned dollar in the gaming industry. It isn’t just happy with YouTube Gaming playing second fiddle to Twitch, or YouTube itself simply hosting Let’s Plays and walkthroughs. It wants to become the textbook definition of gaming.
Google is attempting to paint a golden future of gaming in its own image, but all I saw during the keynote were red flags.
I admit, I love the idea of picking up and playing any game off of any device with the Chrome browser, regardless of hardware performance limitations, be it PCs, laptops, phones, or tablets. What I don’t love is how that idea is wholly dependent on my unreliable internet connection. Regardless of how Stadia struts its stuff, the promise of native 4K resolution and 60fps stability means jack if my connection isn’t smooth, let alone existent on bad days. Meanwhile, there are a ton of gamers out there who have worse experiences with internet connectivity than I do.
Additionally, Google may have the technology and be ever eager to launch it in North America and Europe later this year, but existing infrastructure and pricing models for internet connectivity, owned by oligarchic ISPs, aren’t prepared to accommodate such a radical shift. As Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad put it, it’s a matter of saving up thousands of dollars to invest in a PC or console and games, versus spending thousands on your internet bills for exceeding your cap because you spent several hours playing games on Stadia. At this point, Stadia as an avenue for gaming stops being affordable for serious but non-wealthy gamers.
This is without getting into mobile providers and their own paltry data caps, because what good is there in streaming a game on my phone when I only have so much data to go around? I’m better off staying at home and hoping my wifi doesn’t suddenly decide to shut down. Hell, what good is stable internet in this fragile political age where net neutrality can be stripped away by corporate lobbyists and their political allies, who can then hobble or cut off the average consumer’s internet without notice or reproach? They gleefully do so without shame, even while human life is threatened, such as when Verizon erroneously throttled internet connection for firefighters during the California wildfires last year. What worth does stable streaming have in such a world, and why should ISPs be trusted to not exploit Stadia?
Speaking of streaming, our next crimson banner raises the issue of Google Stadia being a stream-based digital-exclusive platform. While physical media ages and decays with the passage of time, the conveniences of digital media are hard to overlook, but consumer rights have not quite caught up with the rise of digital storefronts compared to physical products. This is not an issue exclusive to Stadia, but for the most part, you don’t own digital games at the end of the day, be it on the Nintendo eShop or your iPhone’s App Store—you purchase a license to download and access the software. While it varies by region, that typically means no refunds (what with grace periods being a very recent thing on PC), no preorder cancellations (to note, Germany has recently taken Nintendo to court over exactly that), and no trading said software licenses with other users. Plus, when a digital-only game disappears, it disappears forever if without a physical alternative, piracy notwithstanding. Titles like Konami’s P.T. demo and Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game are two such examples.
At the very least, if you already have a given game downloaded onto your system, the risk of losing it or having it pulled from your account is far less likely, which is more than can be said about Stadia. Google’s keynote joked about egregious download sizes on existing consoles before grandstanding on the convenience of streaming their games, but if shaky internet is one obstacle, a consumer’s already tenuous “ownership” of a digital game on Stadia is another big one. On a digital store, titles can already be pulled at any time, be it due to questionable content, expiring license agreements, a publisher pulling support altogether or filing for bankruptcy, or what have you. On any other system, if you had the hindsight of buying and downloading said game, you can still enjoy it. On a stream-based, online-only platform? It’ll be gone forever, regardless of whether Stadia may be subscription-based or its software can be “purchased.” And this is all without considering retail games with heavy monetization practices thrown into the mix.
Moving on, I find it perplexing that Google would speak highly about a symbiotic relationship between Stadia and YouTube, as though it will be this upcoming golden age of content creation and monetization for gamers. The truth of the matter is that this golden age has already come and gone, and Google has already proven time and again that it takes YouTube for granted. Ever since Google assimilated YouTube as a subsidiary in 2006, their attitude towards its userbase has been a neglectful one, to the point where YouTube seems to be flagrantly flippant towards content creators. Moderation is left to some arbitrary algorithm that constantly changes against the content creators’ wishes without warning. This, among many other issues, includes:
continuing to bury smaller channels and supposedly “unsafe” LGBTQA+ content while happily recommending alt-right conspiracy videos
falsely and randomly copyright-striking videos in a system that has no qualms about upholding the doctrine of “Fair Use,” with video game footage among the usual suspects, leading to stolen ad revenue the creator won’t ever get to reclaim
heavily favoring entities who flag videos with copyright violations for any reason, whether they own the source content or not, which gives victimized channels—who can’t afford to take legal action or have their appeals to YouTube denied—little recourse except to pull the video or risk having their channels deleted
burying videos from channels users are already subscribed to, to the point subscribers need to click on an additional bell icon just to be notified of new content from their favorite YouTubers
pulling monetization at random because the video suddenly isn’t deemed “advertiser-friendly,” again without proper cause
That is the platform Google wishes to piggyback Stadia onto. If gaming really is “the backbone of YouTube” as they claim, then Google should be putting more visible effort into supporting the platform in this light, rather than pay lip service and turn the other cheek. If they really want to find ways to connect to creators, they should start by properly moderating their own network with a human approach rather than operating an imperfect piece of coding analyzing content without context, which has continued to harm creators rather than support them. In this case, why should YouTubers feel confident in Stadia at all, when they always find themselves punished and undermined by the video platform they’ve been trying to support and make a living on?
The only real reason YouTube kept getting away with this for so long is because there is no viable alternative to a video platform as massive as YouTube, aside from Twitch streaming. What about the likes of Dailymotion and Vimeo, you say? Well, they certainly exist at least, but they are no competition.
Finally, Google is way too big an entity to be trusted with acting with self-accountability in perpetuity. Cynically speaking, their handling of YouTube implies that they are seemingly content with letting it stagnate for content creators while they continue to cater to the big name advertisers and cable networks. On a much more worrisome note, however, the amount of personal information Google tracks from its users should be considered uncomfortably invasive—while Google does not sell this information to outside parties and isn’t known for data breaches like, say, Facebook, how long will that accountability last? Why should we, as gamers, allow Google to further broaden the scope of their international surveillance into our consumer habits and commercial intentions unchecked?
If anything, I felt uncomfortable watching the Stadia conference unfold with that in mind. Google’s long-term plans hinge on being a one-stop-shop for all things video games. Google is painting itself as the future of gaming, and it puts the onus on its competition with their obsolete, clunky consoles of yesteryear. The Stadia is being fashioned as the Netflix to the big three’s mistakenly labeled Blockbuster, encouraging players to abandon consoles and go Google in spite of the Stadia’s own glaring shortcomings.
In short, the old adage goes “There are no stupid people—only stupid questions,” and yet Google Stadia seems to pride itself on being the answer to a question nobody posed except Google. Cloud-based, always connected, streaming-powered games may well be a future avenue of gaming, but it certainly isn’t the future. There are way too many obstacles and faults that need to be corrected both within and outside of Google before Stadia can confidently pose such an inquiry. At best, Stadia’s boasting comes off as naive in light of all of the above. At worst, it comes off as arrogant and pompous, not unlike certain crowdfunding campaign bombs such as the Ouya.
Microsoft and Sony have always been neck and neck on console performance, and seeing Google try to raise the graphical standard will only push them to do the same. Nintendo, on the other hand, has always been content to do its own thing, and this approach has paid off tremendously for them lately with the Switch. These companies aren’t going to go the way of Google Health or Google+ anytime soon, even with Google’s lofty ambition for a Chrome-powered, homogenized gaming landscape with the Stadia.
When people think “Google,” phrases often associated with the company include “innovation,” “the future,” and “that thing grandma calls the internet.” Yet all I saw was a worrying lack of self-awareness—befitting both Google’s status as one of the leaders in tech today, and Pichai’s opening line of “I am not a gamer“—in Stadia’s nascent steps. It’s heavily reminiscent of the ill-fated OnLive service, what with Google pitching Stadia to a wide crowd of developers in hopes of garnering more support for the exact same product. Hopefully for the company, those missteps won’t lead to a repeat performance, provided more concrete details come soon that could either make or break the Stadia’s enterprising appeal.
The future of gaming can include Chrome, there’s no argument against that, and I am curious about how the new studio’s first-party offerings will shape up. Despite all of its hopes, however, there is no immediate danger of Google Stadia becoming the blatant “be all, end all” of gaming that will substitute or replace the real thing anytime soon, so long as Google continues to misunderstand what gamers actually want.
One of the biggest gaming franchises in the world over the past decade is ready to make a big splash in the mobile market. Call of Duty: Legend of War launched in beta form in a few countries (including Australia and China) last year, and soon it will be headed to North America, South America, Europe, and other regions as Call of Duty: Mobile.
Call of Duty: Mobile is a free-to-play title, and interested players can pre-register at the official website to “stay up-to-date on all the latest intel, learn about opportunities to join future Beta tests, and get the chance to earn in-game rewards.” A public beta is scheduled to launch sometime this summer, but its availability may vary by region. In the meantime, you can check out the official trailer above, and you can read Activision’s overview below.
Call of Duty: Mobile is a new free-to-play game that brings together maps, modes, weapons, and characters from across the Call of Duty franchise, including Black Ops and the Modern Warfare series. Developed by Tencent’s award-winning Timi studio, exclusively for Android and iOS, the game features multiple game modes pitting players in head-to-head, competitive action as they test their skills against players all around the world.
In Call of Duty: Mobile, players will experience the fluid, first-person combat of Call of Duty, fighting head-to-head in fan-favorite modes such as Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy and Free-For-All, in iconic maps from the series such as Nuketown, Crash, Hijacked and more. Along the way, players will earn and unlock classic Call of Duty characters, weapons, scorestreaks, and other gear to equip and customize their loadouts as they battle to be among the best in the world.
Published by Activision, and developed by Tencent, Call of Duty: Mobile uses the Unity real-time 3D development platform. In addition to classic multiplayer, the game features more modes of play to be announced soon.
Nintendo released Animal Crossing: Pocket Campin November of 2017 following a lengthy delay from its originally announced launch window. The free-to-play mobile game has generally been well received, but it’s likely that wouldn’t have been the case if Pocket Camp stuck to its initial schedule.
In a recent episode of Did You Know Gaming, Liam Robertson dives into the history of a handful of Nintendo games that underwent massive changes during development. According to his research, the game we now know as Pocket Camp began as Animal Crossing: Town Planner.
The scrapped game concept had players building and managing a town from scratch, approving things like building placement and public works projects. This game was under development for around a year before Nintendo decided that it wasn’t meeting their quality standards (much like Metroid Prime 4) due to being too bare-bones and simplistic.
You can learn about the history of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp as well as Splatoon, Captain Toad, Project. H.A.M.M.E.R., and more by watching the episode above!
As Microsoft prepares for the next generation, the Xbox brand is expanding. With the power of Project xCloud, Microsoft wants you to be able to play their first-party games on phones and tablets. While that future is still a while off, they took a big step today by announcing plans to bring Xbox Live services to iOS and Android.
Mobile developers will soon be able to integrate Xbox Live functionality in their games thanks to a new cross-platform mobile software development kit from Microsoft. According to The Verge, developers will have access to a variety of features, including ” achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and even some family settings.” Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s gaming cloud chief, issued the following statement.
“We believe so strongly in community, and Xbox Live really being at the heart of our gaming community. If you watch what we’ve done, especially with Minecraft, over the past few years we’ve taken Xbox Live to as many platforms as Minecraft is on as possible. Really uniting all those communities together with a consistent singular experience for those gamers.” — Kareem Choudhry
If all of this sounds a little familiar, it may be because we reported on this possibility last month. A GDC listing (which was later removed) stated that details about Xbox Live on mobile would be shared at an upcoming panel. According to that listing, Xbox Live is also coming to Nintendo Switch. When asked about this, Choudhry stated that Microsoft doesn’t “have any specific announcements as it relates to Switch today.” We expect an announcement will be made in the future. Microsoft is also open to the idea of Xbox Live on PlayStation 4, but that seems less likely.
Fortnite is one of the hottest games in the world right now, with millions of players across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile devices. It also has cross-play functionality, letting players on different platforms compete directly. However, Epic Games has just announced that the latest update makes some major changes to player pools.
According to the Version 8.1 patch notes, Battle Royale cross-play matchmaking is getting a big shakeup. From now on, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players will be pooled together (you’ll have to opt-in to cross-play) while Nintendo Switch players will be pooled in with mobile players. Epic expects this will lead to “an on-average better per-game experience for both Mobile and Switch players.”
It’s a move that makes a lot of sense from a hardware perspective. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are similar machines, but Switch is a different beast entirely. With its Tegra architecture, Switch is much more similar to a tablet, and now that will be reflected in matchmaking.
Following the strong reception for the Bravely series, Square Enix’s new traditional RPG division began work on Switch exclusive Octopath Traveler. The game would launch to solid reviews and quickly topped the charts, boosting Switch sales in the process. Square Enix teased that new games were on the way for both the Bravely and Octopath franchises, and today we got our first look at one of them.
Out of the blue, Square Enix just dropped a trailer for a new Octopath game on mobile devices. Titled “Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent,” this upcoming adventure on Android and iOS is a prequel to the original game. Once again there will be eight stories to explore (with more content planned after launch) and the game will apparently remain a single-player experience. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect, courtesy of the game’s official Japanese website:
HD-2D for smartphones – 3D CG screen effects added to pixelized graphics create a magical world on smartphones.
Eight-character party command-based battles – Form a party of up to eight characters to fight in evolved command-based battles. Smooth gameplay with swipe controls.
Choice of story between three reigning champions – The setting is the Orsterra continent. The protagonist is a “Chosen One” who will fight against a great evil that has achieved fortune, power, and fame.
Field commands – Take various actions towards characters on the field. Try out all sorts of things, such as “Listen” for information, “Steal” an item, “Hire” an ally, and more.
Octopath Traveler: Champions of the Continent launches later this year. Pre-registration is already available on the website. Players can also register for a chance to participate in an early demo that kicks off on March 12th. It’s unclear when the full launch will be. So far there’s been no word on a localization date for territories outside Japan.
Game Freak’s beloved Pokémon franchise has been one of the top sellers on handheld consoles for decades, and lately it’s been making some waves in another market. The Pokémon Company has launched several games on mobile devices, including the phenomenally popular AR game Pokémon GO from Niantic.
Thanks largely due to the success of Niantic’s game, the Pokémon brand just passed a significant milestone on mobile. According to Sensor Tower’s research over $2.5 billion in revenue has been generated from Pokémon mobile games.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of that money comes from Pokémon GO. Sensor Tower estimates that it makes up a whopping 98% of that total. Pokémon GO accounts for all but $50 million of the total, and half of what’s left over ($25 million) came from Pokémon Shuffle.
In total, Pokémon games on mobile have combined for 640 million installs. Around 86% of that is accounted for by Pokémon GO alone, which has been installed around 550 million times. Pokémon Duel is a distant second with 39 million installs.
For years, Nintendo was staunchly opposed to entering the mobile market, but these days you can play Nintendo franchises like Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, and even Mario on a phone or tablet. One of Nintendo’s main concerns in this new venture has been preserving their brand’s image, as mobile game monetization methods are often seen as predatory or even gambling.
This is good news for players, but not so much for Nintendo’s business partners. CyberAgent, the parent company of CyGames, recently reduced its fiscal outlook for the first time in 17 years. This was due to lower than expected profits from Dragalia Lost, the mobile game they recently launched in a partnership with Nintendo.
According to a CyberAgent employee who spoke with the Wall Street Journal, Nintendo was unhappy with the fact that players were complaining about being gouged for cash when trying to win rare characters. In response, they reportedly ordered CyGames to change the in-game odds so players wouldn’t have to spend as much. The CyberAgent source claims the company would make significantly more money off Dragalia Lost if it weren’t for Nintendo. Nintendo has reportedly taken similar measures with DeNA, their first mobile partner.
Nintendo sees its mobile business not just as a way to make money, but also as a means of raising brand awareness to improve the sales of their dedicated video game hardware, like Nintendo Switch, and its games. As such, they’d like to avoid generating any bad press with their mobile games, even if it means making less cash.
Pokémon GO had an unbelievably successful debut in the Summer of 2016, and nearly three years later it’s still going strong. Developer Niantic has kept interest in the game high by regularly releasing new features and holding special events. With the game’s third anniversary rapidly approaching, Niantic product manager Matt Slemon recently sat down with Polygon to discuss where it goes from here, and he hinted that we could see some unexpected additions.
As Slemon sees it, Pokémon GO is now finally at a place where it’s delivering on all of the promises made in the initial launch trailer. Outside of improving those existing features, Niantic is now looking to introduce new gameplay mechanics that might not be what you’d expect in a Pokémon game.
“But I think as we move forward, we’re going to start to see more features that are less traditional Pokémon features [that are] just sort of one-to-one moved over with the Pokémon Go spin. I think you’re going to see more features that are more about really showing what it means to be an AR real-world game, not just a Pokémon game. I think there will be an interesting set of stuff that we have for fans this year, and we’re excited to get that out there.” — Matt Slemon
Aside from being a Pokémon game, Pokémon GO is also one of the most popular AR experiences in the world, and Niantic feels there is more they can do to capitalize on that fact. They recently launched the new Snapshot feature to make it easier for players to take pictures of their AR Pokémon in real-world environments, and it sounds like there’s more coming in that arena. What would you like to see next from Pokémon GO?
One of the key features of Pokémon GO is its trio of teams. Niantic’s hit mobile game has you choose early on between Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor, and from then on you’ll be claiming gyms in the name of your team and battling against opposing gyms. In the past, your choice of team was a permanent decision, but soon that won’t be the case.
If you’re getting tired of your current team colors and want to switch things up, you’ll be able to do so starting on February 26th. Niantic is launching a new “Team Medallion” item that lets you change your team loyalty, but there are some strings attached. This action can only be performed once every 365 days. More importantly, a Team Medallion will cost you 1,000 PokéCoins. For reference, $10 gets you 1,200 PokéCoins in the shop, so this isn’t exactly a cheap decision to make, considering this is a free-to-play game.
Last week, Niantic announced that they’re taking the fun of Pokémon GO‘s AR+ feature and making it far more accessible. With the new and improved GO Snapshot feature, you’ll be able to grab cute pictures of your favorite Pokémon any time you want instead of just when encountering wild creatures on the overworld.
If you’re an Android user, you can try it out now! GO Snapshot is currently available to all Android players at level 5 or higher. It’s unclear if that’s a permanent requirement, but it takes very little time to reach level 5, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hurdle. If you’re playing on something other than Android, Niantic says you should “stay tuned,” so you shouldn’t have to wait too long.
No Our Verdict
Trainers, #GOsnapshot is now live for level 5 Trainers on Android devices! Level 5 will be the minimum level for Trainers to access this feature. Trainers on other devices, stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/47RVFh4PpD
Longtime Pokémon fans have been clamoring for a follow-up to Pokémon Snap for years, but to no avail. However, Niantic’s ever-popular Pokémon GO app does allow players to take pictures of Pokémon in the real world thanks to augmented reality. Players have been taking advantage of this feature to the best of their abilities, but it has its limitations. Fortunately, it’s about to get a lot better.
Niantic announced today that it will soon be launching a new feature to take your photography skills to the next level. The aptly named GO Snapshot will allow you to take pictures of any Pokémon in your storage. This option will appear when looking at a specific Pokémon or accessing the camera in your Bag of items. Here’s how it works:
It’s simple to use. Select a Pokémon and tap on the screen to throw its Poké Ball to that spot. Once your Pokémon is situated in the ideal spot, you can then move around it to find the best angle for your photo. Is your Pokémon distracted or looking the wrong way? Brush across it to get its attention, and it will be sure to face you.
Take as many photos as you like during your session. Once you’re finished, all photos are saved to your device automatically! It’s also easier than ever to share your favorite photo via social media. Just select the linked social channel you want to share with, and you can show your friends your masterpiece with a couple of quick taps.
No, it’s not exactly Pokémon Snap, but it might be the closest we get. This new mode will make it much easier to grab beautiful shots of your favorite Pokémon. No official release date has been given yet, but it’s coming “soon” to both iOS and Android.
It’s a strange and wonderful new video game industry we find ourselves in 2019. Major game publishers are still competing with each other, of course, but more and more they’re finding ways to cooperate and work together. Cross-play functionality has come to popular games like Fortnite and Minecraft, and now Microsoft is looking to take another big step towards a more unified gaming audience.
According to a listing on the GDC 2019 schedule (which has since been edited to remove the juicy details), Microsoft will soon be announcing plans to roll out Xbox Live to Nintendo Switch and iOS and Android devices. This would allow developers to include features like Xbox achievements and friends lists in their Switch and mobile games. Here’s how the listing read before it was removed:
Xbox Live is one of the largest, most engaged gaming communities on the planet with decades of experience providing managed game services to developers that save you time and unlock all of the social and engagement features that players love.
Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK.
Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.
Xbox Live players are highly engaged and active on Xbox and PC, but now they can take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen.
This will break down barriers for developers that want their communities to mingle more freely across platforms. Combined with PlayFab gaming services, this means less work for game developers and more time to focus on making games fun.
Microsoft has been cozying up to Nintendo quite a bit recently, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer has often had positive things to say about the company. They likely see bringing Xbox Live to Switch as a good way to entice Nintendo’s fans to give Xbox a shot, especially since they have a brand new console generation in the works. Meanwhile, the mobile market is incredibly vast, and there could be much to gain going forward by being seen as the hub for communicating with friends and acquiring achievements on mobile devices.