Nintendo has admitted that its first Mario smartphone game has fallen short of the mark.
Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima has told Nikkei that revenues from the game "did not meet our expectations". It was revealed in January that the game had been downloaded some 78m times on iOS, but only 4m of those had been converted into paid players.
Super Mario Run is free to download, but the bulk of its content is locked behind a 9.99 paywall. It was unveiled by non other than Shigeru Miyamoto at Apple’s own iPhone 7 event – something that not long ago would have been thought unthinkable.
While Nintendo had already released social app Miitomo, Super Mario Run was to be its first ‘full’ smartphone title, and certainly Mario’s big non-Nintendo debut.
The game arrived on Android last week, although no sales data has yet been unveiled.
Nintendo tried a different payment model with its most recent release, Fire Emblem Heroes. That game really is free to download, although random heroes are unlocked via a paid ‘gacha’ system. The randomness means players can face a significant outlay to obtain the characters they want.
The platform holder confessed to Nikkei, though, that it does much prefer Super Mario Run’s premium payment model, describing Heroes as an outlier”.
It also emphasised its previous argument that its smartphone games aren’t purely a revenue making exercise, and are also about expanding Nintendo’s brand appeal to a wider audience.
Super Mario Run topped the free download charts in 68 countries following its iOS release on December 15th. However, the Top Grossing chart was always a different story, with the UK being one of the 14 countries where the game briefly topped the revenue rankings.
In fact, the game’s commercial performance led to a drop in Nintendo’s share price.
Nintendo’s next smartphone outing will be an Animal Crossing game.