Last month Nintendo announced Mario Kart Tour, a mobile version of its hugely popular racing series, Mario Kart. While the announcement spawned many questions (including which characters, courses and items would be in the game) one of the biggest queries is what sort of business model the game will have. Just how does Nintendo plan to monetize the game?
DeNA, which is Nintendo’s mobile game development partner, has now shed more light on that business model question. According to a translation via Wall Street Journal reporter Takashi Mochizuki, during DeNA’s latest financial briefing the company confirmed that Mario Kart Tour will be free to start.
It should be noted that free to start is just another way of saying free to play. Nintendo has stated before that it doesn’t like the term free to play because of it’s “insincerity” to players and so the company refrains from using it, opting to use the term free to start instead.
This should mean that Mario Kart Tour will use a more traditional free to play business model. Nintendo has only described games like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes as free to start but does not use the term free to start when talking about Super Mario Run.
DeNA CEO said "Mario Kart Tour," a Nintendo-DeNA smartphone game planned for FY18, will be free-to-start.
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) February 8, 2018
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is supported by microtransactions and players can pay to purchase additional crafting resources, extra inventory slots, and iconic characters such as Tom Nook, though core gameplay features are all free. Super Mario Run, on the other hand, offers a small amount of gameplay for free but players will have to pay $10 for the full experience.
Both Nintendo fans and shareholders will be glad to hear that Mario Kart Tour is more like a traditional free to play game than Super Mario Run. Super Mario Run sales disappointed as a direct result of its business model and analysts said that the $10 price point was too high for players who are more used to much cheaper microtransactions. Fans also argued that the decision to include a paywall essentially prevented them from getting a proper feel for the game before spending any money on it.
Although DeNA and Nintendo have not fully explained how Mario Kart Tour microtransactions may work, the game will likely lock some playable characters and maps, making players play a lot to earn in-game currency (or pay some money) in order to unlock them. Not everyone will be best pleased with that, but most would agree that that is preferable to the majority of the game being locked instead.
Mario Kart Tour will be released on mobile devices before March 2019.
Source: Takashi Mochizuki – Twitter