Will Super Mario Run be a Game Changer for Nintendo?

Nintendo has hit a bit of a snag lately. While Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One are selling in record numbers, Nintendo’s Wii U isn’t faring as well. However, the electronics giant looked to change its fortunes with the announcement of Super Mario Run for mobile. But would Super Mario Run be able to keep up with the competition?

If anything is able to revive the company, it would be its mascot character, Mario. After all, the Mario franchise is the best-selling video game series of all time. Since the 1980s, an astounding 210 million units of the Mario series have been sold worldwide. That’s one way to collect all of the coins.

Super Mario Run to the Top

Mario and Luigi toys with arms raised.
Source: Pixabay

After release of Super Mario Run last week on Thursday, December 15, the game got off to a running start. According to app analyst Sensor Tower, the mobile game was downloaded 25 million times in just four days. In comparison, Pokemon Go achieved the same feat in 11 days.

The first mobile Mario game generated millions in revenue over the first few days of launch. However, there were some worrying signs. The game received thousands of poor reviews and Nintendo’s monetization choices were questioned. Looks like things aren’t running smoothly with this launch.

Running on Empty

Mario lying dead with Boo licking him.
Source: YouTube

Investors were disappointed with Super Mario Run, leading to Nintendo shares dropping by 11 percent since the game’s release. The primary cause of the decline was negative user ratings. Currently, on the iOS App Store the game has been rated 2.5 stars out of 5 based on almost 5,000 reviews.

Moreover, this raised concerns over the game’s one-time payment model. Players are required to pay a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock the full game after playing a trial run of the first three levels. This approach differs greatly from the tried and tested approach of users paying various small fees for in-game features.

Running Out of Time

NES Classic Edition is a mini version of the original system.
Source: Nintendo

When relying on a one-time payment model, reviews and word of mouth are key since the company won’t get the drip of revenue that the pay-per-play model is famous for. The current pace is unsustainable and therefore investors are pessimistic about Nintendo’s future outlook.

Fortunately for Nintendo, all of its eggs aren’t in one basket. Last month Nintendo tapped into nostalgia and released NES Classic, a miniaturized version of the original Nintendo NES. It sold out right away and is poised to continue its upward trend this holiday season. Perhaps we will get to see a Christmas miracle after all. Only time will tell.