Will Users Respond to Super Mario Run’s Payment Plan?

super mario run

Now that Super Mario Run has been released on Android, a new set of users will get a chance to test Nintendo’s controversial pay-once approach for the game.

The big question: Will results improve for Nintendo? The answer: Folks are skeptical.

As Dave Their writes in Forbes: “Super Mario Run didn’t go over as well as Nintendo hoped it would, for several reasons. First and foremost was the price point. While advertised under “free,” the game was actually a limited demo that costs $9.99 to upgrade to the full version. Not only did some consumers see the “free” listing as a bait and switch, a $9.99 price tag is pretty much unheard of for blockbuster mobile games. Super Mario Run saw a huge number of initial downloads, but not many of those customers converted to the full version. Conversely, those that did only ever spent that one time $9.99 — large mobile games make much of their money off of individual customers that might spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars.”

Interestingly, if Nintendo wants to investigate another model – the one where users pay as they go to unlock new players or scenes or powers – the gaming giant doesn’t have to look far: Fire Emblem Heroes provides a strong example.

Writes Nikkei Asian Review: “Nintendo’s smartphone cash cow is instead ‘Fire Emblem Heroes.’ ‘Heroes’ is a ‘freemium’ game that lets players pay to unlock random characters — a format known in Japan as gacha. The smartphone game market is fiercely competitive, and even the use of popular characters does not guarantee success. Yet ‘Fire Emblem Heroes,’ an entry in the popular “Fire Emblem” series of strategy role-playing games, led sales rankings from its debut, underscoring the power of Nintendo’s library of intellectual property.

Even so, Nintendo has no intention of switching focus to freemium games. ‘Heroes’ is an outlier,’ a senior company official said. “’We honestly prefer the ‘Super Mario Run’ model.’”

MacRumors points out the differences between Nintendo’s Super Mario approach as compared to other products, such as Fire Emblem Heroes.

The post states: “In terms of payment models, the distinction between Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run is clear, and it appears that Nintendo intends to keep focused on higher-priced gaming apps instead of the more popular freemium model. Looking towards the future, we still only know that Animal Crossing is set to appear next on mobile devices, likely sometime later this year. Unfortunately, today’s news muddies the waters regarding that game’s payment strategy, since it’s now unclear whether it will lean towards Fire Emblem Heroes‘ freemium model, as Moriyasu said, or be part of Nintendo’s preference for a pay-once option.”

“Super Mario Run launched in December and saw massive launch day download numbers, but the app has since dwindled down the Top Grossing charts for the Games section of the iOS App Store, amid users raising uncertainties over its $9.99 price tag and always-online requirements. At the time of writing, Super Mario Run is the 117th game on the Top Grossing Games list, while Fire Emblem Heroes sits at the 48th spot.”

We know the gaming world will be watching. And so will Nintendo leaders. As Nikkei Asian Review reports: “Revenue from the game ‘did not meet our expectations,’ Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said.”

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