Nintendo's first real entry in the smartphone game market won't use Mario, Zelda or any of its iconic console characters. As revealed by Nintendo executives at a press and analyst event in Japan, the first smartphone "game" from the company will be called Miitomo, and it's due for release in March of 2016.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Miitomo will be a free-to-play game, with paid add-ons, according to statements made by Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima:

Looks like Miis go ahead and communicate with other Miis without your knowledge. This will help people who are hesitant to talk about themselves to communicate with others, and reveal a side of your friends you never knew, Mr. Kimishima says.

In the new Miitomo game, users will design their own avatars, or "Miis," to communicate with other users. Executive Shinya Takahashi says that Nintendo will find ways to encourage people who are hesitant to talk to share things about themselves.


Indeed, it sounds like Miitomo, at least on the surface, is less of a "game" and more of a communications app. Nintendo also posted some slides from their presentation on their Japanese site, with one of them showing a small and early screenshot of Miitomo..

Nintendo was supposed to release the first of five planned smartphone games by the end of 2015, but the company has decided to wait until the spring of 2016 to release Miitomo, in part to help property promote the game.

Nintendo plans to release four more smartphone games, in collaboration with DeNA, by the end of March of 2017. Not all of them will be free-to-play; Nintendo says some of them will require money to download.

Source: Wall Street Journal, Nintendo