Dragalia Lost’s final chapter is coming in July 2022, following Nintendo’s announcement to shut the mobile title down.
Quite literally, Dragalia Lost has reached its final chapter. Despite having satisfying gameplay loop and an engaging story that drew praise from critics, Nintendo pulled the plug on their first original mobile game developed in collaboration with Cygames. This studio also published other works, such as Granblue Fantasy. The decision was revealed through Dragalia Lost’s official website, stating that the game’s story will end with Chapter 26 (Part Two) in July. Once that’s over with, Nintendo will discontinue service on Dragalia Lost later. The action RPG was initially launched in 2018 and received campaign additions and continual updates throughout its lifespan.
Nintendo’s Take on Mobile Games
Dragalia Lost was a new IP released for mobile devices specifically. The game takes place in the Kingdom of Alberia, where dragons and humans coexist. Dragalia Lost weaved elements of the best mobile ARPGs in the market and featured a gacha system. The action-RPG title generated $123 million in revenue in 2020, only trailing behind Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes.
Dragalia Lost isn’t Nintendo’s first rodeo in the mobile gaming realm. Nintendo first entered the mobile space in 2016 with Miitomo, a social media app that featured Mii characters. Soon after, prominent franchises from Nintendo eventually made the jump to mobile, including Pikmin, Mario Kart, and Super Mario. The first Nintendo mobile game axed was Miitomo, ending its service in 2018. Then in 2020, Nintendo reportedly was stepping away from mobile games. The “family-friendly” company was more interested in using the mobile space to advertise their core business rather than using it as their primary cash flow.
Even before Nintendo made the jump to mobile gaming, they were notoriously protective of their IPs. They were hesitant to branch out of what they knew best. In 2011, Satoru Iwata even expressed cynicism about mobile games in an interview with Nikkei. Iwata told Nikkei that Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo if they took that step. But in 2016, Nintendo began to dabble in the mobile market, with company leaders likely changing their minds after the tremendous success of Niantic’s AR phenomenon, Pokemon Go.
The Nail in the Coffin
The final nail that put Dragalia Lost in its coffin is most likely due to the dip in revenue during the 2020 fiscal year – you could even say that this marked the beginning of the end for the game. Despite gaining tremendous momentum at the start of 2019 to 2020, Dragalia Lost only earned around $22 million from April 2020 to March 2021.
Dragalia Lost’s free-to-play design could also be partly to blame for its demise, with many commenters quoting it as “both its worst traits and its best.” The gacha market often feels like gambling, where you’d try your chance to get the best characters in the game. Nintendo’s foray into that was undoubtedly a refreshing change of pace compared to the ruthless and money-hungry gacha ecosystem. There wasn’t much to buy in Dragalia Lost, which means players don’t spend as much money, resulting in a loss of revenue.
The most significant mobile gaming trend for developers and publishers is making deliberate design choices that force players to win or even pay to keep playing. However, Nintendo didn’t opt for that option. That’s certainly great for the player base as it means that they don’t have to cough up a dime or a nickel every time, but it was a detriment to Nintendo’s profit margin.
Success varies on Nintendo’s side of things. On the one hand, Fire Emblem Heroes generated a whopping $656 million in revenue worldwide (as of 2020). On the other hand, we have Dr. Mario World, Nintendo’s worst-performing mobile title. It only generated $13.9 million (overall) revenue before its service ended in November 2021.
Dragalia Lost is the sole original IP among Nintendo’s offerings in the mobile gaming scene, and unfortunately, it may be the company’s last experiment of its kind. Mobile games like Fire Emblem Heroes, Mario Kart Tour, Pokemon Go, and Pokemon Unite will likely remain the ongoing focus for Nintendo. There’s a possibility that Nintendo might not invest in original mobile games anymore. Still, at the very least, they might be learning from their competitors and past experiences about what games they could put out at a lower risk. Our fingers are crossed that the shutdown of Dragalia Lost won’t be in vain.