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Miitomo is Making Good Money Without Really Trying

Nintendo's first mobile app, Miitomo, received a widespread release at the tail-end of March. The games industry has been keeping a close eye on it ever since. After all, it's Nintendo's first venture into an important market it showed little interest in until the last possible minute.

So far, so good. People are downloading Miitomo in steady numbers, and they seem to be using the app regularly. Speaking personally, I still get a lot of Friend requests, and there's still plenty of activity on my feed. Granted, I have over three hundred Miitomo Friends (oh, to be so popular in real life!), so I might be coming from a unique position. I don't know what the average Friend count is for Miitomo, but it's a bit of data I'm interested in seeing.

Speaking of verifiable data, we have our first numbers on how much money Miitomo is making via its in-app purchases. According to numbers collected by SurveyMonkey Intelligence, Miitomo brought in $40k of daily revenue from the week of March 31 through April 7. The number accounts for purchases made in both the iOS and Android versions of the app.

We don't know if those numbers have held up since SurveyMonkey's collection, but Nintendo's debut app can confidently be considered a short-term success.

$40k is admittedly peanuts compared to a consistent top-grosser like Clash of Clans, which makes millions per day on Android alone, but Miitomo's financial success is much more intriguing because it's not aggressive about its monetization methods.

Clash of Clans bombards you with ads, to say nothing of the fact you need to spend at least some cash if you want to rank anywhere near the top of the leaderboards. Miitomo, however, has no ads. There's nothing to "win," outside of goofy outfits in the Miitomo Drop game. But I don't even change my Mii's outfits often (I have a cat-based ensemble -- what more do I need?), so I've been wondering how Nintendo plans to siphon cash from someone like myself who is perfectly happy with the free Miitomo experience.

Then people with better memories than myself threw out reminders of why Nintendo entered the mobile space to begin with: The company plans to use the platform as a way to endear mobile users to Nintendo's IP and platforms.

Former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said as much in a March 2015 interview with Time: "[W]e will be able to develop and operate software which, in the end, will not hurt the value of Nintendo IP but, rather, will become an opportunity for the great number of people around the world who own smart devices—but do not have interest in dedicated video game hardware—to be interested in Nintendo IP and eventually to become fans of our dedicated game systems."

Miitomo certainly offers users the chance to become familiar with Nintendo's properties. The app is a vector for My Nintendo, the gaming giant's new point system. Toying with Miitomo is an easy way to earn Miitomo coins (which double as Platinum coins), which can be exchanged for discounts on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games. Talk about your cat, get 15% off Yoshi's Wooly World. What a deal.

In other words, Miitomo fishes for your loyalty (and data on your buying habits), not your nickels. Though Nintendo probably isn't suffering any hurt feelings from that tidy $40K the app is bringing in daily.

Sideote: 80% of Miitomo's revenue comes from the iOS version of the app. Use that number in your mobile platform wars however you will.

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