Why Nintendo thinks you’ll pay $9.99 to play Super Mario Run on your iPhone – Dallas News (blog)
Nintendo finally relented as general-purpose mobile devices increasingly cut into sales of its portable game players. Other games publishers filled the void on mobile devices left by Nintendo, threatening to erode the relevance of its game properties, including “Zelda” and “Donkey Kong,” for a new generation of players.
“They’ve really let their brand wilt the last few years,” said David Cole, a games analyst with DFC Intelligence. “But I think we’ve seen how strong that brand still is. There is potential to bring it back.”
Nintendo made some curious choices with “Super Mario Run” that suggest it is not yet entirely comfortable with mobile devices. The game will require a constant internet connection, which could make it difficult to play on airplanes, in subways and in other areas where connections are unreliable or nonexistent. Company executives have said in interviews that Nintendo is requiring an internet connection, in part, to prevent piracy of the game.
“We remain confident that the play style means that the game can be played in a wide range of locations and situations,” Kit Ellis, a Nintendo spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
Nintendo is also pricing the game in an unconventional way for the mobile market. While it will allow players to sample portions of “Super Mario Run” for free, Nintendo will charge $9.99 for full access to the game. A vast majority of mobile games are free, but some provide players with opportunities to pay $1 or more for useful items inside a game or for access to new challenges.
Only a few mobile games — “Minecraft” is one notable example — have successfully charged as much as Nintendo plans to, analysts said.
“Ten bucks for the mobile environment is really high,” said Joost van Dreunen, chief executive of SuperData Research, a firm that tracks the games market. “That’s a tough ticket.”
Still, it is hard to understate the passion players feel for Nintendo games, sustained by an almost bottomless well of nostalgia for the company’s products from the 1980s and 1990s. Earlier this month, a $60 miniature version of an old Nintendo console, called the NES Classic Edition, sold out in stores within minutes of going on sale. Nintendo-themed areas are coming to Universal theme parks in Japan, Hollywood, California, and Orlando, Florida.
This summer, “Pokemon Go,” a mobile game based on an entertainment property partly owned by Nintendo, was an enormous hit. That game, created by an independent company called Niantic, benefited from the fact that it was free to play. It also made innovative use of a technology called augmented reality, awarding points to players for capturing Pokemon characters that they found in public locations through their smartphone cameras.