It has been reported that Fire Emblem Heroes has made almost $300 million in its first year. The mobile game, just the second outing of the kind from Nintendo has far eclipsed its initial game, Super Mario Run-- which earned approximately $56 million for the House of Mario despite having the more universally known franchise.
Consensus for a number of years in gaming business circles was that Nintendo was leaving a considerable amount of money on the table by not establishing a mobile footprint. Super Mario Run, an endless runner, was an attempt to dip their toes in. The game was released for free, but only held the first world outside of a paywall. A one-time fee would unlock the rest of the game. Fire Emblem Heroes carries a more traditional FTP mobile game format: randomized unlockable characters of varying rarities, power-ups and resources that can be replenished over time or purchased to expedite the process, timed events, and sales.
Randy Nelson of Sensor Tower broke down the payment demographics to emphasize comparisons to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Nintendo’s third mobile game), which to-date since its release in November 2017 has earned about $20 million. Comparatively, Fire Emblem Heroes had earned $86 million by the same point. It is worth pointing out, too, that Fire Emblem continues to stand at 34th in worldwide mobile earnings compared to Animal Crossing’s 190.
While Fire Emblem Heroes’ success is proof that Nintendo’s venture into the world of mobile was justified, it is still far from the leading games in terms of revenue. Pokemon Go and Clash Royale earned roughly $1 billion each in their first years. The formula for the revenue in Fire Emblem is likely to remain a fixture, as it tapped far more into the U.S. market (29 percent of its total revenue) than the earnings generated from Animal Crossing-- which has earned most of its money to-date from Japan at 82 percent.
The simplified and randomized rendition of the beloved Fire Emblem series has been an irrefutable hit. Should Nintendo follow where the money is, it is safe to say that they will begin to emphasize existing franchises that lend themselves to the same concepts of randomized (and rare) characters and paid resources. The upcoming mobile version of Mario Kart, entitled Mario Kart Tour should feature these characteristics. The latest entry, Mario Kart Deluxe 8, features over 30 different racers and a multitude of vehicles. Another franchise ripe for a mobile version is the ever-popular Smash Bros. fighting series.