Nintendo’s Super Mario Run is a big hit on the App Store but its price point is not proving too popular.
It’s taken Nintendo some time to make the jump into mobile. Their first game, Miitomo was an instant hit but tailed off quickly – although it does have its fans. And, of course, Nintendo’s stake in The Pokémon Company meant that Pokémon Go seen as a success for the Japanese game maker, despite them having minimal input into its development.
Super Mario Run is something different. It’s Nintendo’s first true mobile ‘game’ and the first to feature the company’s iconic italian plumber. It’s no exaggeration to say that the game is one of the most important Nintendo releases in years.
For an inventive and often innovative company Nintendo can also be rather conservative, especially when it comes to their business and pricing models. Despite the move into mobile they are evidently keen not to devalue or cheapen their IP. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when they announced that Super Mario Run would not be free-to-play but rather free-to-start, with a one-off unlock fee of $9.99/£7.99.
This pricing strategy certainly places value in the Mario IP but it’s also a risk in a market where consumers expect games to be free, or built around micro-transactions.
So now that the game is out, what does the iOS audience think of Nintendo’s approach?
They don’t like it.
A quick browse through Super Mario Run‘s reviews on the App Store – where it currently has a 2.5 star rating – highlights two mains areas of dissatisfaction. The game’s ‘always online’ requirement, and the price.
User Kznsisnsbn articulates the general consensus by praising Super Mario Run‘s gameplay but also expressing dissatisfaction with having to pay ‘real money in exchange for 24 virtual levels‘. It’s a review that highlights the challenge for every developer bringing a game to app store, especially those considering ‘virtual levels’!
Backdoorhero isn’t too impressed with the game itself, and again cites the lack of free content.
Other comments allude to there not being enough of the game available in order to make a judgement on whether to pay the full price.
And the game’s requirement to always be online means the Super Mario Run is almost unplayable for some commuters.
It’s not all bad news though. Many users are full of praise for the gameplay experience and appreciate the clarity of there being an ‘all in’ price.
These are uncharted waters for Nintendo. On one hand you have to admire them for putting value in their products, but you also have to wonder if the negative reaction from some players will have a long-term effect on the perception of the company.
Within the next four months we are due to see Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing mobile games. Nintendo has already said that these are likely to use a micro-transactional model that is more integrated into gameplay. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
Our take? Super Mario Run is as good a mobile Mario game as you could expect, and worth every penny. The online requirement, however? That has to go.