The Student News Site of Taipei American School




New Super Mario Run runs afoul of expectations


(Image above) It’s me, Mario: Despite a meteoric rise, the app’s popularity is steadily declining. (Photo courtesy of Gamespot)

Nintendo released Super Mario Run on Dec. 15, 2016. This mobile game, currently only available on iPhones, skyrocketed to the top of the charts on the Apple App store in the United States. It also set a record for the most downloads within the first week of an app’s existence on the App Store, getting 40 million downloads within the first four days of its existence.

Super Mario is an iconic character and a staple of many childhoods on consoles such as the Nintendo DS. As users move away from traditional gaming consoles to their phones, Nintendo appears to be making forays into the mobile gaming market. The numbers do not lie – this game’s initial popularity was far beyond that of Pokemon Go. Bianca T. (10) says that “it reminds [her] of Flappy Bird since it is so simple and  addic[tive].”

Despite it’s popularity, Nintendo’s stock value has actually plummeted. Within five days of its launch, Nintendo’s share value fell about USD $3 billion. This might be due to a variety of user issues with the app.

One major design issue is that the game uses an estimated 50 MB of data per hour played – which can rapidly eat up mobile data if not playing with a WiFi connection. The problem? Playing the game requires a strong, steady connection to the Internet at all times – which means no playing in the subway.

Further compounding user frustrations is the cost structure of the app, which users say was not made clear to them upon initial download. The game is free to download, but is only free to play up until the third level. Users must pay a one-time fee of USD $9.99 to unlock the rest of the game.

The app design scares investors off, as users might not want to spend the money to play a game that they can not play offline, eats their mobile data, and is relatively short for the cost. Furthermore, Nintendo’s choice to use one-time purchases rather than recurring in-app purchases means that Nintendo does not have a long-term revenue stream.

According to data from Bloomberg and Apptopia Inc., users believe the USD $9.99 cost is too high. Only 1-2% of users who download the app actually buy the full version. Apptopia estimates that the number would have jumped to over 10% if Nintendo lowered the price to USD $2.00.

Despite the loss in revenue, and the rapidly decreasing popularity, Nintendo does not look to be worse off in the long run, as it remains a gaming behemoth. This foray into the mobile gaming market, while unsuccessful, is unlikely to affect Nintendo in the long run.  It will look to return to traditional gaming with the release of the “Switch,” a new console later this year, and gamers everywhere continue to use Nintendo consoles.

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