Mario Kart Tour has officially hit iOS and Android, and fans seem to be ecstatic about the series' arrival on mobile, save for one thing.
When first announced, it wasn't clear what kind of business model the game would have, though many suspected it would rely on microtransactions, much like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. It turns out the game will rely on a "Gold Pass" subscription instead, which will hide certain features behind a $5-a-month paywall.
Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass
That wasn't a typo — Mario Kart Tour's premium tour costs as much as a monthly subscription to Apple Arcade, Apple's just-released stream-all-you-can game service, where players pay a flat $5 fee a month to get access to a sizable lineup of games and play as much as they want.
The Gold Pass subscription gives players various in-game items and badges as they progress, and also unlocks "200 cc" mode, the fastest in the game. The game's website lists all the items included in the premium pass, though it's not clear what they're for, exactly. Fortunately, users can sign up for a free two-week trial, but after that it's $5 a month.
Again, $5 a month is the price of Apple Arcade, or half a Spotify subscription and nearly half of a Netflix subscription. Rightly so, some players are finding Gold Pass a wee bit ridiculous, and to be fair, it's hard to imagine anyone paying that much a month for a few exclusive features. One thing is clear, though: Along with Nintendo Switch Online, the video game company further tries to carve its own position in the games-as-a-service era, where titles aren't just bought once anymore, but rather continuously paid for in short bursts.
That's understandable, though. What isn't is Nintendo grossly miscalculating its strategy for Mario Kart Tour. It's also a feat of bad timing, as Apple Arcade is meant to address the gaming world's microtransaction problem. But perhaps Mario Kart Tour offers an incredible experience that will be well worth the $5 a month. However, it's tough to imagine anyone shelling out that much for a single game, no matter how iconic it is, instead of subscribing to Apple Arcade and getting access to a lot more titles.
Despite all that, it'll still be interesting to see how Mario Kart Tour fares in the age of streaming, microtransactions, and Apple Arcade. But it's hard to fault players for thinking Nintendo is out of touch with the gaming industry.