Video game console and software maker Nintendo has never exactly been accused of rushing into new things. With the notable exception of the Nintendo Wii and Wii U, the company often plays it safe. To its credit, when it does decide that something is worth pursuing, it goes after it aggressively. This week the company announced its next major game releases on Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. One of them is Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android.
That there’s an Animals Crossing for iPhone and Android coming isn’t anything short of amazing. Just a few years ago, Nintendo seemed very dedicated to the idea that expanding outside of mobile and living room video game consoles was bad for its business. The company, perhaps rightly, believed that its strengths were best used for shoring up the Nintendo 3DS, which dominates mobile console sales. All of that changed when the company confirmed its partnership with developer DeNA.
Here’s what we know about the Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android release coming soon.
Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android Won’t Be Anything Like Miitomo
The Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android release offers Nintendo an opportunity to recalibrate expectations for what a kind of games it hopes to deliver on smartphones and tablets. While Miitomo was certainly exciting for hardcore Nintendo fans, it was also a messaging and social networking app first. In the press release announcing its coming games, Nintendo makes it clear that Animal Crossing won’t be anything like Miitomo. The game is described as having more “prominent game elements” than Miitomo does for sure.
This absolutely makes sense. Animal Crossing has existed for years on dedicated Nintendo consoles, with single player and multiplayer versions capturing the imagination of simulation and party game lovers everywhere. Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer offered players the chance to create dream homes for their in-game animals. Games preceding Happy Home Designer offered players the opportunity to create entire villages and communities.
If you didn’t like Miitomo, don’t count Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android out just yet.
Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android Cross Play
Besides smartly, retreating back to straight-forward game mechanics, Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android will also play-up the unique situation that Nintendo finds itself in. Most mobile game developers don’t have an infrastructure or any hits on gaming consoles, Nintendo does.
To that end, Nintendo is promising a tie-in strategy for Animal Crossing. Specifically, the company says that the mobile version of the game will connect to the console version of the game in some ways.
“Nintendo will design the latter game [Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android] so that it will be connected with the world of Animal Crossing for dedicated gaming systems. By playing both Animal Crossing games, users will find increased enjoyment,” the company says. How this cross-play will manifest is anyone’s guess right now.
It seems plausible that Animal Crossing creations might be able to transfer into the two, or that doing things in the mobile version of the game might offer currency in the Wii U version. We don’t know the extent of the interoperability, but Nintendo plans on talking more about this before the game arrives.
Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android Release Window
Nintendo has always kept release information for its games close until it was very confident that it could deliver on it. The partnership with DeNA hasn’t changed that. We knew for months that Miitomo, was on its way, but got hardly any advanced notice about its arrival in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android won’t be any different, it seems.
In its announcement of the game, Nintendo confirmed that Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android had a release window of late 2016. Specifically, the company is targeting the fall. As we get closer to that window, expect Nintendo to be more specific about what month and day Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android arrives.
Animal Crossing for iPhone & Android Price
Because Nintendo is being so skittish with details about the launch of Animal Crossing, pricing is something that we don’t know. We can safely speculate though.
First, Miitomo is completely free for users to download to their iPhone. Instead of charging for the game itself, Nintendo and DeNA charger users for in-game add-ons to enhance their experience. It’s what’s called a free-to-play game. Almost every game worth discussing on iPhone and Android is a free-to-play game, with the exception of Minecraft Pocket Edition.
Not having a cover charge allows video game developers to quickly grow their game’s install base and tweak the game overtime for the best return on their investment. Couple the realities of video game development and the huge amount of games available that are free, and Nintendo really doesn’t have any choice but to make Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android a free-to-play title. DeNA has a long history of making free-to-play games too, which certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of the game being free either.
None of this means that Animal Crossing for iPhone and Android will absolutely be free. The odds of Nintendo asking users to pay a cover charge for it do seem small though.