Nintendo's Mobile Games: What to Expect in 2017

Free up some space on your phone — Nintendo has plans to release two to three mobile games per year, according to Reuters.

A screen from Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes

A screen from Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes

In 2017, that will start with Fire Emblem Heroes, which releases Feb. 2 on Android with an iOS release to follow. With that game, Nintendo is taking a free-to-play strategy, with optional upgrades that you can purchase with real-life money. The company delayed its Animal Crossing mobile game into its next fiscal year, but that starts in April and goes through March of next year, so there's plenty of time for that to launch in 2017.

Last year, Nintendo released Super Mario Run on iOS (it will launch on Android in March), which allowed for gamers to try the first few levels before paying $10 to unlock the full the game. It was positively received by critics, but fans raged against the price, and felt blindsided by the fact that it appeared free in the App Store (this is the only way for Nintendo to offer the free trial in the first place).

Nintendo told investors that the game has over 78 million downloads, but fewer than 10 percent of users have purchased the full game.

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If Fire Emblem does well, expect to see more games with the free-to-play model, which tends to do well on iOS and Android with games like Clash of Clans, Game of War and Pokémon Go. This pricing system will likely seem cheaper to mobile gamers who aren't used to paying for apps but might not mind dropping a few bucks here and there for extra items.

Much to the chagrin of its investors, Nintendo avoided iOS and Android for a long time with the insistence that you can only get the best experience on Nintendo hardware. Now it's changing its tune, but it has to prove it can also make money while doing it.