At this point, it’s pretty clear that Nintendo doesn’t really care about India. It’s one thing when the company doesn’t officially bring its consoles to the country, but it’s a whole different matter with free-to-play smartphone games. Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s latest smartphone game that didn’t release in India at launch, which is just baffling.
Super Mario Run has so far been Nintendo’s only exception, as it arrived in India at launch, but it might not have been the best game to test the market. Not only was Super Mario Run exclusive to iOS, but there’s also the issue of steep Rs. 800 in-app purchases to unlock the full game.
Free-to-play games like Pokemon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes are more suited to India, but none were available here at launch. Other free-to-play games with optional in-app purchases, such as Clash Royale and Teen Patti, have proven to be huge hits in the country, and Nintendo definitely missed a trick by delaying the launch of Fire Emblem Heroes. We don’t even need to remind people of the Pokemon Go craze in the country, even though the game was not officially available for months and stopped working in many parts of India.
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Miitomo, for some unknown reason, was released in India several months after the app launched in major Nintendo markets. Pokemon Go, which is not really a Nintendo game but owns the intellectual property (IP) of the company, has arrived in India six months after its launch in the United States. Super Mario Run, which was released as an iOS-exclusive game, was available here at launch, but that doesn’t make sense for a country where the vast majority of people are on Android. Fire Emblem Heroes, a game available on Android and iOS, is not available in India. Based on Nintendo’s track record, Fire Emblem Heroes could be coming to India in a few months, and it’s not going to do the game any favors as the interest would have died down.
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It’s easy enough to assume Indians don’t know about Fire Emblem as Nintendo never really cared about launching its titles in the country, but in the age of the internet, that’s a hollow argument. It’s the same country where people watch shows like Game of Thrones at launch and play games like The Witcher 3 on day zero. There are enough people who know about the Fire Emblem series and if you don’t release the game on launch day, how will others find out?
Even if someone from this country hears about the game, they are going to be annoyed to hear that it is not available here. This will lead hardcore fans to download Fire Emblem Heroes through unofficial methods and other gamers will be completely absent. India has over 300 million smartphone users, so it’s hard to see why Nintendo continues to treat it as an afterthought, even for free mobile games.