How Super Mario Run Missed The Mark For Nintendo

How Super Mario Run Missed The Mark For Nintendo

After tons of hype, Nintendo finally released Super Mario Run, its first Mario game for a mobile platform. In its first 24 hours, the game was downloaded more than 5 million times, according to app tracking companies, and made between $5 million and $11 million worldwide, depending on who you believe.

Image: Nintendo

These aren’t Pokemon GO figures, but they aren’t anything to sneeze at. And yet, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the game isn’t living up to investor expectations. Shares of Nintendo’s stock were down 7.1 per cent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday, with investors citing poor reviews and sales that haven’t matched projections.

Per the The Wall Street Journal:

Initial reviews on Apple’s App Store were below par and sales missed expectations in some markets. The game didn’t gain the No. 1 spot in Japan, one of the world’s largest smartphone game markets, though it landed that position in the U.S. and elsewhere.

After a sharp run-up in Nintendo’s stock price ahead of the game’s release, analysts said the negative news prompted some investors to close out bullish bets.

And it’s true, App Store reviews from users are probably not what Nintendo expected. In the US App Store, nearly half of the 53,921 reviews are a single star, with users complaining about the app crashing, the fact that the game is not playable offline, and some just saying it’s not a very fun game.

U.S. iTunes ratings and reviews for Super Mario Run
This isn’t good. After the failure of the Wii U, and with 3DS sales on the wane, the Big N needs a hit, especially since the Nintendo Switch is still months away.

The “Nintendo is doomed” meme might be trite and played out, but the company has finally had to accept reality that mobile gaming is actually a thing. After the success – even if it was fleeting – of Pokemon GO, a lot is riding on a Mario game coming to the iPhone.

But instead of bringing a “true” Mario game to iOS, Nintendo decided to create a kind-of-watered down version of what you might expect from Mario. It’s true, as our friends at Kotaku note, that this isn’t simply Mario installed in an endless runner; there is more to the game than that. But it’s also true that this isn’t a robust Mario game. The game is designed to be played in bursts and with one-hand, which isn’t a bad idea, but leaves users wanting more. This is especially true when unlocking the full version of the game costs $US10 ($14).

Moreover, as the Financial Post noted last week, Nintendo’s decision to charge once to unlock the game, rather than offering incremental in-app purchases favoured by games like Candy Crush Saga, Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood, and even Pokemon GO, means that these early player reviews will have a big impact on how successful the game ultimately is.

The Post cited a financial note from Daiwa Securities’ Takao Suzuki, who said that, the pricing model “makes reviews by the core fans of the Super Mario series… important, as they will be behind the general opinion on the game that should take shape fairly soon after its release.”

Charging once to unlock a game might be the more consumer-friendly thing to do, but it also means that if people don’t like your game – or can’t get it to work – they won’t bother paying anything for it.

This isn’t the first time mobile reality has wrecked Nintendo’s finances. Nintendo’s stock soared on the success of Pokemon GO this summer, only to crash back to Earth when investors realised that Nintendo only owned part of the game.

Pokemon GO might have been a fad, but you at least it brought something innovative to the table; it also proved that AR games with the right branding can go mainstream. Right now, you can’t say the same thing about Super Mario Run.

It’s not a bad game, but it does nothing to push the boundaries of standard iPhone games, to say nothing of what we expect from a Nintendo title in 2016. If Nintendo wants to win with customers on mobile, it needs to step-up and bring its formidable talents to the the smartphone arena, rather than just resting on the laurels of branding and pretty graphics.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo


  • What this article fails to note is that a lot of the 1 star reviews on the App Store… and by a lot I mean most of them… are people complaining that the game costs $15AU to buy.

    I kid you not, there are reviews on the App Store of people saying they haven’t played the game but didn’t want to pay money to play it and so they gave it 1 star. Hardly fair.

    In my view, this is the perfect example to point to as to how Apple has both revolutionised and destroyed the game industry.

    Here’s a premium game from one of the worlds best game makers, and it redefines if not exemplifies one of the most common kinds of games on the App Store. It is totally worth $15. Yet all the entitled kiddies and millennials who are used to paying $1 for terrible games they never play again, or literally hundreds of dollars for inconsequential in-app purchases like “Massive Bag of coins”, whine that they have to pay $15 once for a known quality.

    I paid my $15 and I’ve enjoyed it thus far. Yes, it’s an endless runner with a Mario skin. But what I appreciate is that Nintendo could have done just that and called it a day but the controls feel tighter than most other endless runners I’ve played and much of that Mario charm is still there.

    Remember Sonic Dash? Sonic would have been the perfect character for an endless runner. Right? But Sega flubbed it. Every other runner I’ve ever played feels like a store front for IAPs. This has multiple game modes, challenges and feels good to use. It’s not a traditional Mario but its probably the best endless runner I’ve ever played.

    I gave it a 5 star review on the App Store. It’s a great game and, in my opinion, worth every cent.

  • “The game is designed to be played in bursts and with one-hand, which isn’t a bad idea, but leaves users wanting more.”

    If only Nintendo had some more sophisticated games featuring Mario…

  • It’s pretty for sure, but $15 for it is a bit much, I’ve seen game far cheaper than that with more content, and what’s with the auto jump, might as well just have it as a video with no user input at all

    • What they need to do is make the jame completely free, remove auto jump and give you five lives with permascroll like the original MARIO games, give power ups as micro transactions, that is how you make money in mobile games, that would boost sales, people are happy to spend a $1 here and there they don’t think of the total sum as a whole, but an over price for a game is a bit much. And I have played it wouldn’t buy it, sorry Nintendo, I like you products and games, but you complete dropped the ball on this on, come on really auto jump, what were you thinking, what mario game has ever had auto jump

  • I was looking forward to this game but after the trial levels I wasn’t hooked enough to spend the $14-$15 they’re asking.

  • Are people just poor these days? 15 bucks is nothing its two drinks at a bar, some packs of Hearthstone cards.

    Its not like Nintendo is making you pay for it first before playing.

    • And of course if you spend that money on two drinks at a bar and a pack of Hearthstone cards then you don’t have it to spend on Super Mario Run and vice versa. This is why the “It’s the same price as X” justification irritates me. You’re making an either or choice based on which has more value to you, not having cake and eating it too.

      • But the thing is ill buy all those things still. Its 15 dollars. Its not going to break the bank, when it does come out on android ill buy it for sure.

        And ill play it at the bar while I double park two soda water and vodkas, pausing between games to open a few packs of Hearthstone cards.

        • But the thing is ill buy all those things still.

          And then you’ve spent at least $30. Not $15.

          I could buy a Maccas meal every day for dinner it’s only about $10 after all. But of course once I’ve done that for a week I’ve actually spent $70, which is a lot to spend on a weeks worth of meals.

          This literally comes into play with anything people are buying. This is why arguments about piracy are null – because there’s never any way to know whether a game would be bought when there’s so many variables for evaluating its value when there’s so many other things people need worry about purchasing.

      • His point was that it’s a very small amount of money … not so much what you would rather buy with $15.

        • $15 is a “big deal” for me though. If I pay for Mario, I won’t be able to afford the pack of Hearthstone cards (or in my case, pack of Kingdom Hearts uX medals). Some of us have to budget our gaming because no, we don’t have the luxury or spending $15 all the time. If I had a full time job I could maybe more often splash out, but with my current hours it would be irresponsible – once or twice sure but not every time a game wants me to upgrade to full.

          Saying this, of course I agree all the one star reviews are unnecessary. If I had an ios device and enjoyed the game, I’d save up and budget for it eventually.

          • So are you saying if you buy Mario Run you will never be able to buy a pack of Kingdom Hearts uX medals? Are there timed exclusive packs?

          • How do you know they doesn’t need $15 worth of socks next time? Or how about there’s a way better more fun game than Mario Run to buy for $15, or maybe Mario Run gets discounted to $7 and wow, now they’re vindicated for the patience and can buy two $7 games. There’s a million ways it could go down.

            If they thinks that $15 is too much then that’s that. You can think it’s poor assessment all you want but it’s a valid one either way because at the end of the day they decide if any transaction occurs at all.

    • On the flip side, $15 was about the price of the Chaos Ring games, that features actual story and gameplay that while a bit shallow was more in-depth than this

  • “but the company has finally had to accept reality that mobile gaming is actually a thing.”

    Nintendo were the innovators of mobile gaming… O_o

  • After the success – even if it was fleeting – of Pokemon GO…I’m confused. After the investor bump when Pokémon GO came out it was clarifiied that Nintendo only played a minor role in it and it was The Pokémon Company and Niantic that made it a success, not Nintendo. The article even says this later. So if Nintendo was only partly involved was it really a mobile success on their part?

  • Poor Nintendo shares getting beaten up over stupid stuff. Remember when that Niantic game tanked their share price after it under-delivered?

  • Good fun, until you need to fork out the money, I think $15 bux is a bit too much for their initial games…

    They should bring in MegaMan

  • I personally dont mind that it was $15. People still goto EB games and buy a game $50 more then what other retailers sell it for. Thats the real issue here.

  • Crap game with micro-transactions, “sure I’ll download tons of them”. Quality game with a beloved character from a well know brand for $15, “nah, I ain’t paying for that, 1 star review”.

    What the hell is wrong with people. I can’t wait for this to come to android so I can pay for it.

    • The funny/sad/stupid thing is that people all the time complain about the micro-transactions and say things like “why can’t we just go back to the days we paid a definite amount of money for a complete product!!!1!1!??” but when it comes the time to vote with their dollars, you know which kind of game is getting them.

  • It’s an absolute disaster that Super Mario Run can’t be played offline and that some people think it’s not a fun game to play but with the Nintendo Switch only months away from it’s release I think the free app should be shut down for good reason because unlocking access to the entire game for $15 is a total rip off and unlimited access to the entire game should be free of charge not at a cost of $15. Nintendo you should be ashamed of yourself for the cost of the entire game I’ve been a Nintendo fan for years since the first ever Game Boy came out and I’ve supported you guys for buying so many games and updated consoles from the SNES all the way up to the Wii U I’m also both a Mario and Zelda fan but I am disappointed about the cost to the entire game that now costs me $15 for an in app purchase and you are not very been fair to our supporters just to pay for an app that’s not free I’m also disappointed that you brought back the NES Classic Mini Console which was only available online and not in store but you know what Nintendo I won’t be playing Super Mario Run until you make the unlimited access cost free because if you don’t you will be the ones to suffer the consequences!

    • Why in the world do you deserve an entirely free game? Nintendo is not a charity. If you are too cheap to pay for a robust mobile game what is really, a very small amount of money, at least have the decency not to insult them for not making it free.

      “Damn that Ferrari, how do they dare making their cars so expensive when they should be free?”

  • This article is ridiculous. It says that a more robust Mario experience is expected of this mobile game? Sure, let’s add directional movement and 3 different actions so you actually have to have UI buttons… because that has worked so well for other games, right? Or do you want the 64-is levels of other Mario games? for $15?

    The article reads as though they saw the stock slump and then tried to make up a narrative to explain it. Yes, app reviews are low but that’s just because cheapo people don’t understand how much better it is to pay once a small amount than nothing but be scalped by purposefully-made addictive game mechanics that encourage spending thousands of dollars through the life of the app, like many other games do.

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