The release of Super Mario Run on iPhone has sent shockwaves through the mobile gaming community. Lattes have been spilled all over the world and sideways caps have been adjusted forward, as hipsters are faced with the social dilemma of paying money for a videogame.
Super Mario Run offers the first 3 levels free of charge, and then asks you to pay for the full product. EXCUSE ME?! Part with MY own money?! Owners of $600 phones are baffled.
Incredible. This is the future Iwata warned us about in his GDC speech from 2011. He was visibly stressed over the thought of videogames losing value like this. He constantly pointed out examples, and stood firmly on Nintendo’s own position in the face of investor pressure. You can find hundreds more of these Twitter posts by searching Super Mario Run on Twitter, although some of them are probably spam bots. I honestly can’t tell the difference between half these people and spam these days.
So what now, humanity is fucked, everyone is screwed, this is the end of gaming, blah blah blah. That’s what you think this article is about, right? It’s not. I think this is an amazing thing and I can’t stop laughing.
Mobile gaming NEEDED this.
The damage was done to smartphone gaming a long time ago, with the shitstorm at its peak with Flappy Bird and all its clones dominating the charts, at the expense of other game’s visibility. After that, the only games that could sneak into the charts were F2P garbage flooded with micro-transactions designed to weasel money out of people through the backdoor. What Super Mario Run is doing is WAKING people up. This game is blatantly stopping people from stealing levels and claiming entitlement to others work, and it’s good for the entire videogame medium. These people NEEDED a shock, they are worthless. They haven’t spent a single dime on videogame software and therefore were irrelevant to the industry until now. If you look at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got people in the actual gaming industry defending Nintendo and cheering on Super Mario Run.
Good things are valuable. Miyamoto and Tezuka put a lot of work into this game, and set the price they deemed appropriate. I would buy it in a heartbeat if I owned an iPhone. Then again, I would even pay $10 for an average game because I’m on the hardcore end of the spectrum. I’m immersed in videogames every day, and it is admittedly hard for me to relate to the more casual side of gaming. One thing I know for sure however, is that the gaming industry would not exist without people spending money. Could you imagine if nobody bought Super Mario Bros. back in the day because it was short and expensive?
Super Mario Run is teaching an entire generation of people that videogames are good, and cost money. This is exactly Nintendo’s plan with mobile, to show people what they are missing and provide a window.
What’s through the window? Super Mario 3D World, 3D Land, New Super Mario Bros, Mario Maker. Then there’s this mysterious footage…
This is the real product Nintendo is selling and shit’s gonna get real in January. If there is a big Mario game for Switch, and it looks extremely likely, it’s going to ride this wave just like Pokemon. Sun & Moon became the fastest selling games in Nintendo’s history after the added mobile exposure the series got with Pokemon GO, and now people are having a lot more fun with a dedicated gaming system, discovering brand new worlds. These are the people who matter. Nintendo knows exactly what they’re doing and the more people exposed to Super Mario Run, whether it’s good or bad, the better. It’s all growth from people who never would have shown up in the first place.
To end this on a less condescending note, I hope people who did buy the game are having a lot of fun with it. It’s nice to see Nintendo put a serious effort into this with their A team at the helm. This is what Nintendo always does better than anyone, take advantage of a platform. It just so happens to be someone else’s platform they are profiting from with their mobile ventures, but it doesn’t change their design philosophies. Super Mario Run fascinates me. Somehow the bland and “safe” art style of NSMB has found a place where it actually looks good and natural. I’m so happy for it and I can’t wait to see where Mario evolves from here.
Gaming is changing, and Nintendo is doing everything they can to make sure it’s a positive change. I only wish Iwata could see Super Mario Run at the top of the worldwide mobile charts right now.