While Ninjala (opens in a new tab) isn’t quite a household name like Fortnite, the free-to-play multiplayer title on Nintendo Switch recently hit two impressive milestones: it’s been downloaded seven million times from the Nintendo Switch eShop, and it just celebrated its first birthday.
With its vibrant visuals, melee-focused combat, and standout collaborations that would make other franchises jealous, Ninjala has cemented itself as one of the most popular online titles on Switch – not easy given that the Nintendo’s console isn’t really a hotbed of competitive multiplayer gaming and Ninjala is a whole new IP.
But what does the future hold for a game in which you play as ninjas blowing gum? In an exclusive interview with TechRadar, we spoke to GungHo President and CEO Kazuki Morishita and Ninjala Director Motoki Kaneda about Ninjala’s plans moving forward, why collaborations are working so well in the game and whether the company considers Ninjala a success.
pon pon pon
Collaborations have become commonplace in the gaming industry, and while historically they have involved crossovers with other games, we now see music stars, anime stars, and even real-life footballers like Son Hueng-Min. enter the play space for the very first time.
Ninjala has managed to attract some big name names for collaborations, like J-Pop sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and popular anime Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, but what can fans expect?
“We are planning many more collaborations that will surprise our players,” says Morishita-san. “To select collaborations, we mainly collaborate with IPs that we personally like. From these IP addresses, we carefully choose those that we believe will also appeal to our players. We then check the best time to collaborate with this IP. »
Ninjala’s crossovers have certainly been diverse, and Morishita-san thinks Ninjala’s blend of a fictional world and a modern era is advantageous in bringing more collaborations to life. “We can collaborate with just about anything,” Morishita-san explains.
An effective free-to-play formula
In-game events and themes are important not only for retaining players, but also for attracting new players to free-to-play titles like Ninjala. But unlike some Nintendo Switch games, Ninjala is truly free because it doesn’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, which Morishita-san says could have added to the game’s appeal.
“That can be a factor, but since this is a PvP game, we wanted as many people as possible to play without any obstacles. Having it [Ninjala] free-to-play was good for us and good for the players,” says Morishita-san.
Seven million downloads and counting
Most people would consider seven million downloads for a brand new IP a success, but Morishita-san is admirably reluctant to call Ninjala a home run just yet.
“We can’t say for sure that Ninjala has been successful at this time, but we are happy to celebrate our one year anniversary and continue to gain active players,” says Morishita-san. “I think we can say that Ninjala is a success after growing and developing the IP in different forms and it will become a game enjoyed by many players for a long time.”
We’ve already seen Ninjala branch out into media forms beyond gaming, including an anime series on YouTube that portrayed the background of every character in the game. And it looks like we could see more spinoffs like this- here in the future.
“The 3DCG anime we created shows the events and conspiracies that occur in the world of Ninjala,” Morishita-san explains. “We plan to actively spread this new facet of the story through various forms of media.”
Now more than ever, it’s the community behind a game that can dictate its success for years to come. The good news is that GungHo is actively listening to Ninjala fans, as the team will soon be rolling out one of the most requested features: voice chat support.
“We have received many requests from our players and we plan to implement voice chat soon. We will share more details once everything is confirmed,” Morishita-san says.
Morishita-san wants the Ninjala community to “keep sending us feedback” and reassures fans that GungHo is working hard to “meet as many requests as possible”, which Kaneda-san says is indeed provided. by voice chat support.
“As mentioned before, we’re getting a lot of requests for voice chat support, and there are plans to implement it in a future update,” Kaneda-san explains. “We’re also getting a lot of requests about being able to play featured battles in indoor battles or set up a visual lobby.”
The key to remember, then, is that the Ninjala community is heard and that the development team is doing everything possible to facilitate the most popular requests whenever possible.
What does the GungHo team think of the Nintendo Switch OLED?
The Nintendo Switch OLED (opens in a new tab) may not have ticked all the boxes some gamers were hoping for, but one new addition will have caught the eye of competitive online gamers: a dedicated LAN connection port. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed by Ninjala developers, who also believe in OLED. (opens in a new tab) the display will make Ninjala look even better when played in handheld mode.
“The new LAN connection port is great because it provides a more direct connection. Most importantly, the larger screen will make Ninjala’s vivid colors look even better. I will definitely want one for myself,” Morishita-san admitted.
chewing gum dispenser
Ninjala therefore appears to have a bright future ahead of it, but fans will have to wait and see exactly what comes next. The good news is that it looks like GungHo has a lot of exciting things in the works.
“We have so many things I would like to share, but for now I can only say that we will continue to release more updates with new ways to play and experience Ninjala,” Morishita-san says. “We will also have many other collaborations, so look forward to them.”
Ninjala is free to download from the Nintendo Switch Online Store (opens in a new tab).