Nintendo is dismantling its tollbooth because Mario Kart Tour’s full online multiplayer mode will be free going forward. Unlike the beta period, anyone can play against others in online races, even if they haven’t subscribed to the game’s “Gold Pass.”
Mario Kart Tour‘s online multiplayer leaves beta on March 8 at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET. Once players have updated to the game’s latest version, they can participate in standard multiplayer races, and the in-game rules regularly update to keep things interesting. The mode also supports local matches, and players can make custom rules for these races.
“Through real-time multiplayer, we are giving fans of Mario Kart Tour even more ways to play, and bringing the Mario Kart experience to even more players around the world,” Nintendo’s vice president of sales and marketing Nick Chavez said in the announcement.
During the beta period, non-paying Mario Kart Tour players didn’t have very many options. Multiplayer has always been the series’ biggest draw and keeping it free should encourage those initially put off by the payment structure to give the game a second try.
The game’s Gold Pass is still on sale for $5 per month, and subscribers have exclusive access to 200cc races, which are faster and more challenging. The Gold Pass also includes special in-game badges for completing challenges and special gifts like vehicles and characters. Players can try out a free two-week trial but will automatically charge the connected account if it isn’t canceled in time.
After the success of the microtransaction-heavy Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo’s mobile games have relied on the model more overtly. Mario Kart Tour sells characters in fairly expensive DLC packs and they’re also available through a gacha-style game — similar to a virtual slot machine. Players seem more than willing to download the game and start racing, but its early revenue only came out to about 26 cents per player. A yearly subscription for the Gold Pass costs $60, which is the same price as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch. Both are portable, and the latter game includes all racers, tracks, and DLC by default. However, a $20 yearly Nintendo Switch Online membership is needed for online play.
Mario Kart Tour is available now on iOS and Android devices. The game is regularly updated with seasonal and holiday-themed events complete with their own locations and unique rewards.
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