I’ll admit that, until yesterday, I had no idea Fire Emblem Heroes was still active and updated. But a lot of people are still playing the game and apparently spending money on it, too. New data shows that Fire Emblem Heroes has just reached $1 billion in revenue, becoming the first Nintendo mobile game to do so.
First released in 2017, Fire Emblem Heroes is a free-to-play tactical role-playing game in which players collect various characters from past Fire Emblem games and use them to complete missions and battles. And according to new data from Sensor Tower, it’s now made over $1 billion in revenue, earning nearly $30 million this year alone.
Not only is this the first Nintendo mobile game to do so, but it’s also far and away its most financially successful mobile game. In fact, Fire Emblem has made more than all the other Nintendo mobile games combined. If you take the lifetime earnings from all of those games, like Mario Kart Tour and Super Mario Run, and add them together you end up with a respectable $883 million. Nice, but still smaller than a billion.
Fire Emblem Heroes is one of Nintendo’s older mobile efforts, being only its second true production aimed at phones (if you don’t count—and I don’t—the now-dead Miitomo, which felt more like a social app). So it has had nearly five years to rack up its large treasure chest of money, but that’s still impressive when compared to how relatively poorly other Nintendo mobile games have done. 2019’s Dr. Mario World, for instance, has made less than $15 million to date, and usually doctors make bank.
Interestingly, while it has made a lot of money, Fire Emblem Heroes isn’t Nintendo’s most-downloaded mobile game. That would be Super Mario Run, which has racked up over 310 million lifetime downloads. In comparison, Heroes only has about 18 million. You can be certain Nintendo’s taking notes on this.
Of course, compared to other popular mobile games, a billion in five years is pretty slow. PUBG Mobile, which launched in 2018, made over two billion just last year, as did open-world RPG Genshin Impact. But a billion dollars is a billion dollars. Hell, I’d take a billion dollars after five years. Just saying.
As for Nintendo’s future in the mobile game space, it’s not looking great. The last game it released was Mario Kart Tour in 2019. Since then it seems the company has shifted its focus elsewhere. That makes sense to me. When you have a console as popular as the Switch, why would you keep making free-to-play games for iPhones? With such stiff competition in the mobile space, it seems much safer to stick to the wildly successful bespoke console you actually control.