What have I “played”
As soon as the 1.0 version arrived, I downloaded it and played for a few hours, bur had no friends to play with. Now, on the latest version (as of this essay), I have reached level 8 on popularity and 10 in style (if I tell this to my sister she won’t believe it) and “play” at least 10min a day (you think this is not enough to write something about it, but let’s remember this is a social app. I enter, answer a few questions, play a little of MiiDrop, fiddle a little bit with the app and then get out. You can see that this is pretty much all you can do with this thing, so I’ve basically covered up everything).
What is it?
Miitomo is a social media disguised as a Nintendo game. It was Nintendo’s first effort on a system that they didn’t own. There you can create your own Mii (or others that you can use, like your friend, a TV character or your own internet persona) and use it to interact to others that you’ve befriended with. This interaction can happen by sharing answers to questions the game makes to you (either by your or your friends’ Miis) to your friends and reading their answers, creating and sharing pics with your own Miis in it, buying outfits for it to get it the way you want or participating in a pachinco-like game to get event outfits, wallpapers and tiles.
Other than that, there isn’t much you can do in the app, but how could Nintendo find this idea interesting enough to share with the world? Well, first I need to say that — being a Nintendo game, there’s a certain quality to it. From the UI (that seems a lot more “touchable” then most apps you use, even using a flat design) to the Mii exact expressions when you mention ‘love’ or ‘money’ or any emotion in a answer or comment, to the sound effects and music playing in the background that changes if you’re with a determined type of Mii (when you create one, the game asks you to determine certain qualities, that will show your personality and, with it, the music of your room. I have to say: I have never found a more accurate description of me in a social media pretending to be a game before, my music is spot-on relaxing, and my friends’ are exact as well) .
But quality is not enough to bring people to play your game (and with a free to play strategy, trust me, you WANT people playing your game. Lots of them). You also need that core mechanic that makes people see that this is a fun thing to be using. And in this case, it’s the people themselves (with a little bit of weirdness that makes all of Nintendo’s games great), which seem a little bit strange thinking that people make the thing fun, but that’s when you realize the connection between social media and this “game”. When people are engaged and interact with each other, you can see some excitement from them and a reason to come back later. That without counting the first attempt from Nintendo at a “Achievement” system that is myNintendo.However…
I can, however, say bad things about this “game” (as with any other). Since it’s not a game nor an app it draws the good, but also the bad from both. It’s not fun enough to be called a game; people are only going to come back if other people do (which can cause a pretty unstable audience). And it’s not funcional enough to be considered as a Social Media; all actions take a lot of time to perform and there is a lot of things that facebook does as a basic function that the app doesn’t. To solve some of these issues, particularly I’d put something in there to amuse the players; some kind of mini-game or collection of minigames (like the ones in the Mario Party series) to make the player come back. With this, the player has another reason to return, and Nintendo could even put a leaderboard in it to make friends compete between themselves (heck they could even put multiplayer minigames in it). This way they wouldn’t “play” it only because of their friends, but also their scores and to have fun, really (and that’s what Nintendo is all about).
In more than a year with the app, I was only able to add 13 friends and interact with less then half
So, is this a bad beginning for Nintendo? Well, not so much. Even though we can’t say to whom is this for, it was capable of attracting a lot of people. And even though the monthly-active user should be nothing compared to when it launched, it’s high enough for Nintendo to still support it with events and new stuff. What I can say for myself (as a introvert fella) is that I had some fun with Miitomo (once I added and started interacting with some friends) but it was a fun that ran out fast once I started asking “Why am I still using this”.