Nintendo’s Mario Kart franchise finally came to mobile devices today with Mario Kart Tour, but it has already started to raise our eyebrows with its monetization structure. Alongside standard in-game currency that you can buy with microtransactions, it also features a “Gold Pass” that will set you back $5 per month in order to access the fastest tier of races.
Available initially with a two-week free trial, the Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass gives subscribers a few different benefits, including gold rewards for racing in tours like they normally would, and special badges for completing “Gold Challenges.”
The biggest boost — literally — is access to the 200cc race tier. This is unavailable to other players, who will cap out at 150cc, so the highest level of competition will likely only be available for those willing to hand over $5 each month. You must cancel your subscription before the free trial ends, as well, as it will otherwise charge you automatically each month.
Nintendo’s approach to monetizing its mobile games has changed fairly drastically with each release. Super Mario Run relied on a one-time purchase to access the full courses included, while Fire Emblem Heroes uses more regular microtransactions for those who want to build up their teams as quickly as possible. The prospect of playing the Mario Kart franchise on a phone is definitely appealing, but asking for cash every month in order to access a race tier seems like an odd decision.
Of course, those looking to play Mario Kart on the go already have a great choice in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. Compatible with the Nintendo Switch Lite, as well, the game includes all DLC originally offered for the game on Wii U, and features a huge roster of characters to try out and courses to race on. As it is compatible with single Joy-Con controllers for racing, you and a friend can play against each other without having to bring along an extra controller, too, and you’ll have something to throw at each other when you get hit with a blue shell.
Mario Kart Tour is now available as a free-to-start game for iOS and Android devices.
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