Nintendo’s first big foray into mobile gaming is fizzling out.
“Super Mario Run” launched on December 15 exclusively for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. It’s a free game to download, and you can even play a few levels – but, after that, you’ve gotta pony up $10 for the full experience. And $10 for an iPhone game is, to many people, an unacceptably high price.
As a result, the game was downloaded over 78 million times, but just 5% of those people shelled out $10 for the game – that’s from Nintendo’s president. The other 95% chose not to shell out money to buy the rest of the game. And that translates to a surprisingly small amount of money: somewhere in the ballpark of $40 million.
Sounds like a lot? It isn’t when you compare it to the heavyweights of mobile gaming. Popular games like “Clash of Clans” and “Game of War” rake in millions every day; the same can be said for “Pokémon GO.” And none of those games cost any money up front.
That $40 million is actually a tremendously generous guess – we’re simply taking the 3.9 million people who paid for the game and multiplying by 10 (the price of the game: $10). And even then, we’re rounding up from $39 million. That’s before factoring in the standard 30% cut that Apple takes of anything sold on the App Store, or the cost of actually creating the game, or the cost of marketing it.
If we’re being real, Nintendo’s made far less than $40 million on “Super Mario Run.” But let’s be generous, for the sake of today’s news.
In a seemingly ridiculous turn of events, free games are far more profitable on mobile than ones with a fixed cost. You pay for “Super Mario Run” once and you own the whole game. No ads. No limited time to play the game. $10 gets you full access. But $10 is simply too much to ask for games on mobile. And Nintendo is learning that lesson the hard way.