‘Super Mario Run’ Raking In Gold Coins, Despite High Price & Grouchy Reviews

Super Mario Run — the much-hyped iPhone exclusive game from Nintendo — was released earlier this week. While there have been no shortage of complaints about the price of the game, some analysts say this sort of negative attention was part of Nintendo’s plan from the start.

After all, even as the company’s stock price dips and the average review falls in Apple’s App Store, that just means that people are thinking and talking about the game.

“[A]ll the fuss about the game, including criticism over pricing, is precisely what Nintendo wants,” a stock analyst who focuses on Nintendo told Reuters.

In mobile games, there are two business models for games: they can either charge a one-time fee, or give the game away for free in the hope that users will subsequently spend money on in-game microtransactions. Some games are a hybrid, offering users a low purchase price then charging for access to additional features.

A spokesman for Nintendo told Reuters that the company deliberately chose a higher price of $10 rather than a hybrid or microtransaction-only model to make the game friendlier to kids: or, more importantly, friendlier to their parents.

“Pricing was designed to reassure parents that they would be charged just once, not multiple times,” the spokesman explained. Kids and microtransaction-based games can be a bad combination, as the major phone and tablet app store providers have learned from class action lawsuits.

Overall, about 8% of people who download the game, which is free for the first three levels, are going on to purchase it. So far, that means about 25 million downloads and $21 million in income, and that’s while the game is still an iOS exclusive. Future mobile titles from Nintendo, like a planned version of the Animal Crossing franchise, will use different pricing models to find out what works.

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