Looking Back at Miitomo
It’s been two months since the release of Nintendo’s first mobile application, Miitomo. The app was released in Japan on March 17th 2016, and internationally on March 31st that same year. Currently it’s stated, by the Google Play store page, to have been installed on anywhere between five million to ten million times on Android devices. When I heard about Nintendo delving into the mobile market, I was a little excited. Unsure what to expect, I waited until the release and automatically downloaded it. Not wanting to be bias, evaluating the app solely due to my excitement and first impressions, I decided it would be best to wait until some time passed.
Even though Nintendo has been in game development since the 1980’s, it’s hard to call Miitomo a game. Miitomo is more of a social app. Users create Mii’s then start answering a variety of questions. Adding friends to your friend list, allows you to view their answers to questions and vice-versa. That’s about half of the experience of Miitomo. This gives it that same feeling of answering questions on dating sites, but more for friends and people that actually acknowledge your existence. The type of questions are also a huge difference. Dating sites give questions that are used to find potential soul-mates. Questions regarding politics, religion, and morals. Throughout my participation, Miitomo’s questions were more light-hearted, trying to share mostly ideals and experiences that you can talk about with others. With the ability to comment on others’ answers, these become more of conversation starters to have with friends. If it goes into politics, religion, and morals, then it was on the user’s answers or comments.
“What would be the point of answering questions?” You may ask. Well the other half of Miitomo is customization of one’s Mii avatar. Answering and commenting on another user’s answer can earn you virtual coins! Platinum coins are received by doing a certain amount of activities daily. Saving enough of these platinum coins can get you some articles of clothing while regular coins can be used in the Miitomo’s in-app store. The in-app store has a constant rotation of items available for purchase, though it does take a while for a new set of clothing to enter the rotation. Though one of the other ways to spend the virtual coins is via Miitomo Drop.
Miitomo Drop is a pachinko-like minigame that can get users items that are rare to find in the shop. Unlike the random assortment that is found in the store, Miitomo Drop’s clothing and accessories usually follow a theme. There are a wide variety of themes, such as ninja, wedding style, and even themes of popular Nintendo franchises. These themes are only available for a certain time, until they are removed from the Miitomo Drop. Solely based off my experience, I notice there was an average of three themes on Miitomo Drop at any time. Even with so few themes, their articles of clothing are divided into different machines for users to try to obtain.
Miitomo Drop’s mini-game is really simple as you pay either 500 coins or a ticket, (which are obtained by logging in daily or spending some platinum coins), to drop a Mii and hope it lands on the article of clothing desired. Now 500 coins may not seem like a lot, but it is. Listening at others’ answers only gets 5 coins in return, 15 coins for answering them, and 10 coins for commenting them. It’s to be noted that users don’t get coins every-time they do one of the activities, just the first 10 times. I’m no mathematician, but doing each of those activities tens times a day gets a user just 300 coins. If someone would like to get 500 coins fairly quickly however, it is possible to actually buy coins with real money via in-app purchases. Then you can “gamble” it away with hopes of getting that virtual t-shirt. For context, I use the word gamble a bit lightly.
At first, it seems like Miitomo Drop is based off luck, but then again it’s not. If one is really obsessed in obtaining an article, there are YouTube videos that show how to get them. Though the instructions have to be follow almost perfectly. From the specific area drop, to positioning of the Mii in the air, to what god damn color underwear you are wearing that day. Alright, that last part isn’t required nevertheless it’s pretty specific.
It’s should be noted that I have not given much of an opinion when it comes to aspects other than the questioning of Miitomo. I mainly try to state facts and how the app itself works. The reason for this is because it is very difficult for me to recommend Miitomo. The app tries to have this relationship between its social feature and it’s avatar customization feature. Though when one breaks down, the other one does as well. If you are not interested in the social aspect, then there’s very little to do after getting articles of clothing desired. If you are not interested in the customization, then there’s little initiative to actually have you interact with the social aspect. What also sucks, is that Miitomo isn’t that good of a social application.
Like with any social app, once people move on, the trend slowly dies. Within my circle of friends, Miitomo is slowly dieing out. Some have moved back to Facebook or at least it’s messenger services to keep in contact with one another. Others went back to Twitter, to post their daily experiences and commenting on other users’. While Miitomo arguably lets you do the same thing, it’s just a lot quicker to express oneself with Twitter and the 3rd party twitter clients, such Fenix. I still have some friends on the app that use it weekly, if not daily. They still make the application a bit of fun, but Miitomo kind of that old dead wild west town. It was booming when it first started, though now it’s come to a halt. The few people that are there still make it an enjoyable experience. If you know them you might stick around for a while maybe even longer than expected. Otherwise it’s just another social app that has run it’s course.