Nintendo has ignored the growth of smartphones and tablets as new gaming machines for over a decade now. Seemingly, the gaming giant has swallowed its pride, at last, the company has just released a new game, Super Mario Run, featuring the iconic character Super Mario to iOS mobile devices.
Mario-based games have been around since the early 1980s but could only be played on Nintendo’s handheld devices. The newly released Super Mario Run is the first title the game developer has released on is playing machines built by other companies. The quirky company has always insisted on building game software and hardware all by itself claiming that it is essential to maintain quality.
The new game’s release marks a turning point for Mario also known as Mickey Mouse to some people. The mascot Nintendo’s character is estimated to be the best selling game franchise in history amassing over half-billion sales since it first appeared back in 1981 in the title ‘Donkey Kong’. Earlier this year, the world witnessed the unthinkable when Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, showed up at the closing ceremony of this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil cladded in Mario outfit to campaign for the next summer Japanese installments.
The growth of smartphones as new gaming devices has just forced Nintendo to relent at last. These devices a quickly cutting into the sales of the company’s handheld gaming machines. While Nintendo has continued to snub smartphones, other publishers have been busy capitalizing on the left void and now the relevance of the Company’s portable players hang in the balance – not even Zelda or Donkey Kong is safe. According to tech analyst at DFC Intelligence David Cole, the general purpose smartphones has made Nintendo players wilt in the past few years but admits these brands are still strong in the market.
Even as what seems to be an entry in mobile phone gaming, Super Mario Run will play under some limited conditions which sounds like Nintendo isn’t comfortable with mobile devices yet. Users’ devices must have constant internet connection in order to play which restricts playing the game in places with poor data connection like in airplanes, underpasses, and other places which unreliable or no internet at all. However, the company’s executives have defended the threshold as part of security grip to curb piracy.
In an emailed statement, Nintendo’s spokesperson Kit Ellis said that the developer is confident the game can still be played in a variety of locations. Nintendo is also introducing a unique pricing system for Super Mario Run. Players will be allowed to sample some parts of the game to play for free while the whole pack will sell at $9.99. Note that, most mobile phone games are always free, with some developers allowing users to spend real cash on in-game acquisitions to cruise easily to new challenges. Actually, a few games like Minecraft has charged mobile titles at such a high price.
Even with such restrictions, the affection players have towards Nintendo games is profound. Diehard fanatics have followed the company’s products from the ‘80s and 90s. This never-ending love can be well demonstrated by a phenomenon earlier this month: The NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of old Nintendo console, priced at $60, sold out within just minutes of release.
In addition, this summer another product that Nintendo has a direct hand in, Pokémon Go, took the gaming world by a landslide. The augmented reality-based title created by Niantic was a sensation fueled by the fact that it is free to play. A long-term investor in gaming and a venture capitalist at Benchmark, Mitch Lasky, noted the success of Pokémon Go as a show of the unexpressed demand for Nintendo products on devices manufactured by other ventures. He also expressed his joy that the legendary creator Shigeru Miyamoto who also created Mario participated in the development of the new Super Mario Run.
Nintendo’s first smartphone title has also benefitted from promotion by Apple. During the announcement of iPhone 7 in September, the company’s Chief executive, Tim Cook, announced the game and invited Miyamoto on stage to show it, since then Apple has continued to campaign for the game in the App Store.
Nintendo however, is not stopping the production of its own game players soon – a new console, Switch, is lined for March next year.