Two of Nintendo’s top mobile titles will vanish from the App Store on August 27. Well, in Belgium at least.
Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem Heroes have been big cash generators for Nintendo since launching on iOS. Unlike previous Nintendo titles like Super Mario Run, both these games rely on a freemium business model. And, in Belgium at least, they’re being punished for it.
As with many top-performing App Store games, both titles rely on in-app purchases. This decision seems to have been made after previous Nintendo games — including the aforementioned Mario Run — didn’t pull in quite as much dough as expected. This caused Nintendo to rethink its approach, and embrace micropayments.
The particular issue that seems to have caused problems in Belgium are the games’ loot boxes. These let players pay real cash for a random selection of items. Unfortunately (for Nintendo at least), Belgium has been cracking down on this gameplay dynamic.
That’s because loot boxes are considered a form of gambling. Since they’re often bought by kids, that’s a particular bad look for developers who use the mechanism in their titles.
The end of the road?
In a statement, Nintendo of Belgium said that:
“Due to the current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models, we have decided to end the service for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes in Belgium. It will therefore no longer be possible to play and download the games from Tuesday 27th August 2019. Players who still have Orbs and / or Leaf Tickets in their account can continue to use them until the service ends. In addition, future Nintendo games with similar earnings models will no longer be released in Belgium.”
Loot boxes are also illegal in the Netherlands. However, for now both games are still available in the Netherlands.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Will Nintendo consider removing this aspect of the game for a localized version? Will other countries follow suit and start cracking down on loot boxes? Ultimately, we’ll have to watch and wait.
Estimates show that Nintendo made $348 million from mobile games alone during 2018. Fire Emblem Heroes has been its most successful title so far, making up more than $200 million of that sum. However, Nintendo does seemingly have some reservations about the in-app payment model.