Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s second mobile title recently released on Android devices. Though the game has been popular on the App store, it hasn’t made the company as much profit as originally intended.
Super Mario Run originally launched in December 2016, exclusively on iOS devices. The game uses a model that allows buyers to download and play the first few stages of the game for free with the rest of the game being locked behind a one-time fee. Though Super Mario Run enjoyed a strong start after launching, topping many download charts in different countries, only a small fraction of those downloads converted into full purchases. By the end of January, the game had been downloaded over 78 million times with only a little over five percent of players paying to unlock the full game.
In contrast, Nintendo’s latest mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes has been nothing but successful. Unlike Super Mario Run, the game is a “freemium” title. Players use in game currency to draw randomly from a well of popular and not so popular Fire Emblem characters, allowing them to then be used in battle. Players can spend real world money in order to get more of this currency, increasing the chance of unlocking their favourite characters. This format is used constantly in Japan and is called “gacha” in reference to the machines where change is exchanged for a random toy.
Though the “freemium” model found in Fire Emblem Heroes has been more profitable for Nintendo, a senior company official stated that Nintendo still prefers the model used for Super Mario Run. The company hopes that the release of Super Mario Run on Android devices will help the game to reach a much broader audience, hopefully generating more profit for the company.
Nintendo aims to continue developing mobile titles based on their popular franchises, further raising awareness of the company’s different IP. Alongside Fire Emblem Heroes’ initial announcement, the company also revealed that a mobile title based off the popular series Animal Crossing was in development and will release sometime this year.