Gamers around the world rejoiced on Thursday when Nintendo’s first true foray into the world of mobile gaming was released. When it hit app stores, Super Mario Run simultaneously topped download rankings in 68 countries.
But it’s not all good news. Some users were left confused by some unusual choices Nintendo made. First, the app was only released on iOS devices, leaving out a majority of smartphone users worldwide. The game also requires an internet connection at all times to play.
But what’s got everyone talking is the game’s major departure from the typical free-to-play, pay-for-anything-else model the most successful mobile games in recent years have followed. Instead, the first three levels of Nintendo’s new game are free. Afterward, users need to fork over $9.99 to gain access to the additional 21.
So while download rankings were high, Super Mario Run was only the highest-grossing game in only 14 countries, according to SensorTower. Nintendo shares closed 4.2 percent lower in Tokyo, which wiped out about $1.5 billion in market value, according to Bloomberg estimates. Shares of partner DeNA Co., which helped develop the game, fell 6.8 percent.
Whether gamers are turned off by the one-time price tag for use or they’ll play the free levels to gather if the game is worth the $9.99 (before eventually paying the fee for full access) is yet to be seen. However, some think the latter scenario is more likely.
Randy Nelson, head of mobile research at SensorTower, was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t be surprised if players choose to see how much enjoyment they can wring out of those first three levels as possible before making the decision to drop $10. There’s likely some lag introduced in revenue by the fact that users don’t feel the same impetus to monetize quite as quickly as with Pokémon Go. I expect that it will soon hit top grossing in more countries.”