Nintendo Just Learned That Mario Doesn’t Equal Sales – Forbes
Nintendo just made a multi-billion-dollar bet that seems to be blowing up in their face. Super Mario Run was released on December 15th after buzz, on-stage Apple conference announcement and multiple ads all bestowing the old, beloved Mario was back. The trouble is the game isn’t leaving people happy. First the facts:
- The app was downloaded more than 5 million times in the first 24 hours (per Sensor Tower – other estimates are half this amount)
- The game is £9.99 if you want to unlock more than three levels (not even Candy Crush are that ballsy)
- Stock plummeted 7% the day after it was released and 15% over the last five days
- +25,000 reviews have equated to a two-and-a-half-star app store rating
- The game is listed under the “Free” section but is actually gated
- The game requires an internet connection to play – perfect for travelling…oh no wait…
You’d be remiss in thinking the game is unloved though – 15,000 people gave the app 5 stars – something seismic is definitely going on. Technology-wise the game has had some issues on iPhones (Android version comes out soon) people mainly assume this is jailbroken phones but if this is the case there are a lot more jailbroken phones than anyone realised. Beyond this, Super Mario Run seems to just be a poorer version of the original which many feel a little gipped by (Mario walks on his own meaning going back is impossible).
SO WHY DID NINTENDO MAKE THIS EPIC MEAL OUT OF WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A DAMN EASY LAUNCH?
Firstly, we (and Wall Street) had inflated expectations based on the success of Pokemon GO and the old love there is for Mario. No-one stopped to ask the new armies of gamers that are addicted to Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and so on if they were that bothered about Mario – clearly some are, but are enough willing to pay the highly uncommon £9.99 price? I for one am not. Three levels got my hit and then I deleted. I asked around and people are feeling the same – nostalgia hit and then out. Another case of a company out of touch with its consumer base beyond its nose.
Secondly, the game is full of bait and switch tactics; “free” but not free, Mario but not as you remember, easy to play when the original wasn’t…the list goes on. People feel cheated and that’s before the game asks for money. Not good for happy customers who like to recommend things to friends (ala Pokemon GO) and certainly not a great combo to have – expensive and not buzzworthy.
So is Nintendo’s turkey cooked? It may well be with duds like Wii U, 3DS sales slipping and only part owning Pokemon GO. Buzz around the next hybrid handheld unit – Nintendo Switch – is dizzying but it seems limited to hardcore gamers. Is this enough to cement success? People are predicting a similar fate outside of native market – the fanboys may simply not enough to make this the success Nintendo needs. Investors should be worried, Nintendo keeps making mistakes that point to underestimating and misunderstanding a core part of the gaming industry – the consumer.