The president of Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima, spoke recently on the Nikkei Asia of the business model chosen for the mobile game of the company, confirming the desire to invest in the business model of Free-To-Start, as in the case of Super Mario Run.
Super Mario Run (which debuted on Android devices this week, and launched on iOS in December last year) is free to download, but requires a one-off-payment of £9.99 in the United Kingdom to proceed past its opening four levels.
Back in December, "Super Mario Run" was downloaded 40 million times in its first four days. There are no micro-transactions.
All of which seems very wise, but it's a surprising comment to make given the next smartphone app is set to be based on Animal Crossing, which you'd imagine as being better suited to the freemium model than any other Nintendo franchise. It's nice to hear that they won't be swayed in their plans by the lure of dollar signs, but it's also hard to know what lesson they'll take away from Mario Run, since they're not about to stop caring about profits altogether, either.
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Here's what an unnamed senior company official told Nikkei. "We honestly prefer the "Super Mario Run' model".
Reasons for the lack of sales might be attributed to confusion over the game's "onboarding" pricing model, which made many befuddled and upset over the lack of clarity about what in the game was free or not. Another goal for Nintendo is to mine the potential synergy future apps could have with the new Switch console, where players pick up the app to get hooked, and are convinced to further explore - and spend more money - on a larger version of the game. Although the game saw more than 78 million downloads, only 5 percent of those players paid to unlock the game as of January.
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.