According to legendary Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Run wasn't supposed to be a free-to-play game.
Super Mario Run, Nintendo's first true entry in the mobile gaming realm after the initially popular Miitomo, hitting mid-December, comes at the heels of Pokémon GO, a Niantic-made augmented reality hit that spelled increased sales for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, the series' latest mainline entries released this past November.
Why Super Mario Run Is Free-To-Play
Super Mario Run signals Nintendo's first true mobile gaming entry, but Miyamoto had a different plan for it initially. He wanted to forego the traditional free-to-play model as he was building the game but mused about Apple's free-to-play suggestion.
"We really didn't want to do something in the free to play space, but in order to make sure we had the opportunity to do what we wanted [offer a taste of the game for free, and charge $9.99 to unlock the whole thing], we had to talk to the people who are actually running the shop," Miyamoto told Glixel.
As Apple and Nintendo worked together to bring Mario to iPhone, people from the App Store told Miyamoto that making Super Mario Run a free-to-play game would be a good approach. Miyamoto has always thought that Nintendo and Apple share very similar philosophies, so he welcomed Apple's idea, but in a very Nintendo-like fashion, Miyamoto twisted the free-to-play model slightly — introducing three free levels and a $9.99 in-app purchase to unlock the whole thing.
The price might seem surprisingly steep for a mobile game, but unlike other free-to-play apps crowding the App Store, unlocking the content is a one-time purchase.
Bringing Mario To iPhone
Miyamoto has long thought about the most appropriate way to bring Nintendo's titular mascot to the mobile gaming audience. To properly introduce the Italian plumber to mobile gaming, Miyamoto and his team of developers needed the right platform to ensure that the game will run as they intended. When Miyamoto and his team managed to lay the foundations of what would be Super Mario Run, Apple was the first company they showed it to first.
"Part of the reason we took it to Apple was that in order for us to have the performance we wanted we needed some development support to ensure that the game would run the way we expected," said Miyamoto. He believes that Apple can provide Nintendo development support that ensures the game will run the way it is meant to run.
Super Mario Run hits the Apple App Store on Dec. 15, with a future Android version in the pipeline. The game, however, will only be playable when connected to the internet, possibly to dissuade people from pirating it.
A Super Mario Run demo is now available to play at Apple Stores across the country.
What do you think of Super Mario Run's free-to-play model? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!