Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo’s fifth smartphone game, will reportedly take a page from the playbook of Super Mario Run. According to Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki, Mario Kart Tour will be “free-to-start” when it launches on iOS and Android devices.
DeNA CEO said "Mario Kart Tour," a Nintendo-DeNA smartphone game planned for FY18, will be free-to-start.
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) February 8, 2018
What exactly does this mean? Well, when Super Mario Run launched in 2016, iOS users could download the app for free and sample the first world before forking over $10 for the full experience. While scant details have been revealed about Mario Kart’s foray onto smartphones, the nature of Mario Kart games could lend itself well to this model. For example, perhaps the first cup (four tracks) will be free, but to unlock the remaining cups, you have to shell out a one-time fee.
Although the free-to-start model makes a bunch of sense for a game like Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo hasn’t divulged any concrete information about the game. It’s always possible that Nintendo goes the route of its other mobile games with a free-to-play model. Both Fire Emblem Heroes and, more recently, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offered “free” experiences that attempted to entice users with microtransactions.
It’s worth noting that Nintendo wasn’t exactly happy with Super Mario Run’s sales figures. According to a 2017 earnings report, Super Mario Run had been downloaded 200 million times but failed to reach the targeted 10 percent conversion rate of downloads to full purchases. While the report didn’t reveal the actual conversion rate, we know that at the 78 million download mark, only five percent of downloads resulted in a sale.
Perhaps Nintendo is banking on Mario Kart Tour to outperform Super Mario Run. And if it’s a full Mario Kart experience with a variety of tracks and multiplayer, we wouldn’t bet against it. Mario Kart is a franchise that draws interest from both gamers and non-gamers alike. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the most recent entry in the series, has sold more than 7 million units, which means that roughly half of all Nintendo Switch owners purchased a copy of the game.
Mario Kart Tour will launch on iOS and Android devices sometime in Nintendo’s 2018 fiscal year, which ends in March 2019.
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