Nintendo Is Banking on Pre-Registration to Hype Its First Mobile App

The launch of Nintendo’s first mobile app is right around the corner.

Image: Tom Newby/Flickr

The highly anticipated release of Nintendo's first mobile app is a mere two months away, and now we know a little bit more about how the launch will go down.

Nintendo said on Wednesday morning that users will be able to pre-register for the app, called Miitomo, beginning February 17. Users who pre-register will receive a "special bonus," which Japanese video game analyst Dr. Serkan Toto suggested will be extra in-game points. The app is expected to be released in March.

"[Pre-registrations] are still largely unknown in the West," Dr. Toto noted on Twitter, explaining the difference in launch strategies between Japanese and Western gaming companies, "but an often used user acquisition tool for apps here in Japan."

Nintendo received mixed reactions when it first announced Miitomo in October 2015. The app, which will be available for Android and iOS, won't be a traditional "game" per se, but will instead be a communications platform with users "able to interact with their friends in an entirely new way that transforms communication into a form of play," Nintendo said on Wednesday. So far, that sounds a lot like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Line, just with Nintendo's brand of cutesy "Mii" avatars out front and center.

While that may not please traditional gamers hoping to see the likes of Mario and Link in Nintendo's first mobile app, messaging apps are among the single most popular kind of app around. Launching with a proven concept like a messaging app should help pave the way for Nintendo's future mobile efforts.

Nintendo has said that it will release "approximately" five mobile apps through March 2017. The second app will "not be another communications app, and we plan to adopt one of our characters that fans are very familiar with," said Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima in an earnings call on Tuesday. (The company's third app will also feature "top IP," according to Dr. Toto.) Add the company's interest in virtual reality and it's clear Nintendo is ready to leave behind the disappointing Wii U era.