Mario Kart Tour launches, hits top spot in iOS App Store
Nintendo has hit the smartphone gaming market hard over the past two years. Since the release of Super Mario Run in December of 2016, the gaming juggernaut has tapped into its vast repository of gaming properties to flesh out its smartphone gaming catalog. The latest mobile title in Nintendo’s toolbelt is Mario Kart Tour, which launched yesterday. The kart racer quickly topped the charts in the iOS app store. Despite this initial success, the title’s pricing model may cripple its long-term success.
Mario Kart Tour, which is a smartphone take on the classic Mario Kart formula, has garnered widespread praise from iPhone gamers. The title claimed the No. 1 spot on the “Free Apps” chart in 58 countries, including the U.S. and Japan, according to mobile market analyst Sensor Tower. As of yesterday, Mario Kart Tour also ranked No. 19 for app revenue in the U.S.
While these numbers look great for a debut, long-term revenue may be hampered by the game’s questionable monetization scheme. Mario Kart Tour is a “freemium,” or free-to-play, title. While most of the game’s content is available at no cost, some modes and items are locked behind a $5/month paywall. Most notably, the 200cc mode (which can be considered the game’s “expert” level) is only available to monthly subscribers.
Nintendo’s smartphone titles typically have some kind of freemium model, but Mario Kart Tour’s subscription pricing is strange given the recent announcement of Apple Arcade. Both Mario Kart Tour and Apple Arcade will be available for $5/month. However, Apple Arcade will give subscribers access to a myriad of games; Apple has marketed the service as having over 100 games by the end of the fall.
The question must be asked: what is a better value for $5? One game, or access to a massive library of games? Let us know in the comments if you think Mario Kart Tour is worth the subscription price Nintendo is asking.