Nintendo goes mobile -- not with Mario, but 'Miitomo'

nintendo smartphone miitomo

Nintendo finally shed some light on its mobile ambitions, announcing its first-ever smartphone app called "Mitomo."

Far from including icons of video game history, such as Super Mario or Donkey Kong, Miitomo lets people create their own video game characters and interact with other players' avatars.

The cartoon-like avatars, called "Miis," were first introduced with the Wii console in 2006.

The game mimics a social network. After creating a Mii, game players answer a variety of questions posed by the app. Those answers are then shared with the Miis of friends who are also playing Miitomo.

Nintendo promises a "secure and welcoming" environment for communicating with old friends, and making new ones.

During an investor briefing on Thursday morning, Nintendo said Miitomo will release in March of next year.

Investors were not impressed. Shares of Nintendo tanked 9% on the news. DeNA, which has partnered with Nintendo on the news, fell 15%.

Nintendo's foray into mobile gaming comes as the company struggles to remain relevant in the home video game console sector. Its Wii U has sold just 10 million units since its November 2012 debut, lagging far behind the competing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from Sony and Microsoft, respectively.

In its presentation to investors, Nintendo said its main objective in the mobile space is to "maximize the population that has access to Nintendo."

In other words, Nintendo wants to remind gamers young and old that it's still around, making hit games.

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