Mamma Mia! – $uper Mario Run

Mamma Mia! – $uper Mario Run

By Colton O'Dwyer

December 28, 2016

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            Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s first real breakthrough into the mobile application market, has been out for more than two weeks now. Many agree that enough time has elapsed to fairly judge its performance, and the results are dismal at best. Nintendo shares plummeted after several outlets ran the headline “Super Mario Run No Longer Highest Grossing App in Any Nation”. Being that Nintendo’s only other App release was the temporary popular “Miitomo”, they are relatively new in the App scene. With Super Mario Run downloads diminishing by the day, the question should be asked—Where did Nintendo go wrong with Super Mario Run?

            Many analysts point to Nintendo’s decision to make the game $10 their gravest mistake. While Super Mario Run can be downloaded for free, users are restricted to playing the first 3 levels before having to make the big $10 purchase to progress further. This pricing model is a departure from the industry standard, where games cost nothing to download but allow for “in-app purchases”, most of which are well under the $10 mark. Many analysts believe that pricing the game at 2$ would help to convert a higher number of users and generating several million more dollars.

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              The 10$ price-tag is not entirely indefensible, however. When you begin to deconstruct other models of app pricing, it seems that a hefty one-time fee was really Nintendo’s only choice. Most games that rely on in-app purchases are different from Super Mario Run in one significant way—content. If you were to but the full 10$ version of the game, you would unlock 24 levels which you would play a few times before completing everything there is to do. The idea of in-app purchases only makes sense for games that have longevity, where users are working towards some goal. Take Candy Crush Saga for example. Candy Crush has somewhere in the ballpark of 2890 levels. Candy Crush Saga is free to download and keeps users coming back because you can only play so many games in a time-period, unless you purchase more. You are always working towards a goal. Super Mario Run just doesn’t have the content to sustain this same kind of in-app purchase model.

                Another route that would not have worked for Super Mario Run is the free with in-app ads model. It seems self-evident why this revenue model would not have worked for Japanese colossal Nintendo. Nintendo also seeks to deliver a premium experience, and by having distracting ads that would run on the top and sides of the app this would severally diminish the user experience. To conclude, many expected more from Nintendo and were let down by the release of Super Mario Run. But could we have seen this coming? Shigeru Miyamoto came out of retirement to work on this game. The hype was duly placed and Nintendo failed to deliver. With Nintendo Switch releasing sometime in March, we all have to hope that Nintendo can motivate us with the level of quality that we’ve come to know from them. 

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