Miitomo: The rise and (potential) fall of Nintendo's new app

Category:  News
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 7:37 AM
Miitomo: The rise and (potential) fall of Nintendo's new app  by Britton Rozzelle

“Who do you want to be?” is a question that many people are asked at some point in their lives, usually relating in some way or another to their career choice or choice of school. In Miitomo’s case, it’s a question of what kind of character you want to create to represent yourself.

Nintendo’s first foray into the mobile app market, Miitomo, is describable only as Nintendo’s own social media network. The functions are simple — create a character, answer questions, take photos and buy clothes — but there’s something about its simplicity and style that keeps users coming back for more.

In Miitomo, users are first tasked with creating a likeness of themselves using an updated version of the “Mii-Maker” tool from the Nintendo Wii, 3DS and WiiU. Once they are satisfied with an avatar, or “mii,” users can pick a personality, voice and greeting phrases that match them.

From there, the app opens slightly, allowing users to shop for new clothing options using coins (accrued by playing the app) and answer a large variety of questions ranging from “What’s your favorite type of bread” to “What would you do with a million dollars.” They’re simple, much like everything else in the application, but allow users to express themselves in whatever way they want — uncensored.

“I have a theory that since people love talking about themselves, that is why Miitomo has been so successful considering it revolves around answering personal questions,” said Lucas Aguiar, an art student at Edinboro.

The app allows users to connect to their Facebook and Twitter accounts to populate lists with friends and acquaintances. If you have a friend on Facebook that also has Miitomo, you can reach out to them with a friend request and gain the ability to read their answers and ask them questions. The option to link real world friends quickly has likely influenced the rate at which the app grew, as Facebook alone is one of the most populated social media outlets of modern time.

“With Miitomo, Nintendo basically applied the social media principle to a game, and people are going to buy into it because it’s Nintendo,” said Collin Graves, another student and user of the app.

“The mobile market is huge right now, and since a majority of it is free, the younger audience of Nintendo games can, and probably will, buy into it if they haven’t already,” Graves said.

After reaching four million active users in only a few short weeks according to Nintendo, Miitomo rocketed to the top of both the Android and Apple app stores (claiming the number one spot on the “new free app” chart on both storefronts), and stayed there for almost a week. Reportedly, the average user only uses the app for eight minutes any given day, likely to claim daily rewards or refresh the shop.

“I think what’s the most appealing is the rotating new clothing every day; there’s something to look forward to every day you visit Miitomo,” Aguiar said.

The one question that remains though, is how long will this app maintain relevance to its users? The simplicity of it could also lead to its downfall, according to Graves.

“Users need something to go back to, but right now there isn’t much keeping people drawn in,” he said.

Despite limited options, Aguiar believes, “as long as they continue releasing new questions and new items for your Mii to wear [it will be successful], because the questions are what drew people in, but I definitely believe the clothing aspect is what’s keeping people on.”

While it’s only been available in America for a short amount of time, Miitomo already has a userbase equal to the population of New Zealand, and for now, seems to be growing both on campus and in the country.

Miitomo asks “who do you want to be?”

But only time will tell if users will get an answer.

Britton Rozzelle is The Arts Editor for The Spectator and he can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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