The Social Ghost Town: Miitomo

Nintendo’s first app Miitomo has been out for a couple of weeks now, bringing to our devices a new and somewhat bizarre social network to while away those spare moments of the day. Yet be that as it may, the game has already been swept under the rug, becoming forgotten in the face of the fact that there is next to nothing to do in it. It’s seems a lovely little time waster, but sadly one that hasn’t held onto our attention for long; yet there must be a future in this app, it’s not like Nintendo to quit supporting one of their products straight off the bat. So what the heck may Nintendo’s debut on tablets and smart phones have in store for us?

Screenshot_2016-04-12-12-03-34
What shall we wear today? There is an impressive collection of clothes here, I managed to pick an outfit that I’d actually wear! Beat that The Sims!

For the time being, it indeed doesn’t have much for us to be getting on with. Currently Miitomo tasks players with creating a Mii who will then ask relentless questions while filling us in on what our friends have been answering all this time. Meanwhile we gain in-game currency which allows us to buy new outfits for our Miis and increase their style level. These two goals come together with Miifotos which we can take and edit pictures featuring our Miis in their lovely new clothes. This more or less sums up the entire game; make friends and be stylish. Yet the charm is that it’s a very silly game, and to answer the questions in anything but a silly manner would almost betray the spirit of the characters on screen. They have strange computerised voices and make some truly uncomfortable and excitable faces at times. In true Nintendo fashion we’re meant to just have fun with it, and in this sense it fulfils the role of engaging time waster quite splendidly… Yet a week later and I’ve barely visited my Mii; almost two weeks on and there are no new answers from my (quite frankly limited) pool of friends. The hype has died down, and we’re left with what feels like a ghost town and however excited my Mii gets about my visit it still feels a tad lonely to play. So now that the hype has died down somewhat, we’re left with a pretty hollow experience.

 

 

Indeed as it stands all Miitomo is doing right now is asking us questions, which until it can do more, may even put its users off playing. Frankly often times the questions asked aren’t ones we feel like answering on the spot. For example being asked what has moved me recently was a heavy question to throw at me at 8am in the morning. As a social app its approach can feel quite aggressive, drawing responses out of us rather than allowing us the opportunity to take control of what we want to share or what we feel like sharing at any given time, which can be a jarring experience (mind this may be just a typically British reaction to the game, we folk in the UK can find it difficult to share exactly what’s on our minds in the face of crippling politeness). While everyone will respond to this game differently, the fact is being interrogated (even by a silly computerised version of ourselves) can be quite daunting at times. Surely the player won’t want this kind of interaction every time they have a few moments to spare to tune into the game, turning them towards the multitude of other applications we have on our devices.

Mii Mario Hat
Okay so a nice Mario Hat isn’t exactly massive tie-in but let’s be honest, the best way to keep Miitomo relevant is to get some Mario, Zelda and Pokémon stuff involved when the hype is right.

Yet the crux of the matter will likely rear its head soon enough, as the game grows in conjunction with Nintendo’s new reward scheme My Nintendo. Indeed an account had to be created in order to start using Miitomo, which in a world where PlayStation and Xbox users reign supreme, might turn many non-Nintendo users away because there’s this sense we have to begin investing in the company rather than simply playing a game with an independent identity. We may see a surge of new users flock to Miitomo with new updates that will likely include rewards and tie-ins with My Nintendo and various other Nintendo products over time. Thus we’re likely to continue playing Miitomo not because we’re particularly interested in the game itself, but because of the rewards we’ll be able to claim via Nintendo’s new reward scheme. It reduces the legitimacy of this app as a game and may be a sign of things to come in future for Nintendo’s new app initiative. Of course we enter the realms of speculation here, but when we have articles spring up like ‘How to get a free Zelda Picross game for 3DS using My Nintendo and Miitomo’, it’s not an encouraging sign that Miitomo will grow as a game or a social media in its own right.

 

Thus Miitomo currently feels like a bit of a ghost town, and no matter how enthusiastic our Miis may be whenever we visit, they can’t make us forget about the fact that people just aren’t using it right now. While it may be an encouragement to know more users will likely flock to it as Nintendo’s reward scheme grows, sadly it doesn’t speak volumes about the opportunity for Miitomo to evolve into anything more than a detour in the pursuit of greater rewards.

For those of us already using Miitomo here are some ideas to keep the game interesting.

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