Nintendo's foray into the mobile gaming business has seen the company take its biggest franchise and shrink them down for the on-the-go market. Super Mario Run is an automatic runner and platforming game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp lets players run their own campsites, and a Legend of Zelda mobile game has been confirmed too.
Now Nintendo is looking to take Mario Kart and bring it to the mobile market. Today Nintendo announced Mario Kart Tour while also confirming the release window for the game. The company says that fans of the arcade-style racer can expect it sometime during the next fiscal year, meaning that the game will launch between April 2018 to March 2019.
Nintendo didn't offer any concrete details on what fans can expect, but many have taken to social media to speculate. In particular, fans are wondering how Mario Kart Tour's business model will work. Will the game be free to play with microtransactions or will it be like Super Mario Run and command a $10 fee for the full experience.
The checkered flag has been raised and the finish line is near. A new mobile application is now in development: Mario Kart Tour! #MarioKartTour Releasing in the fiscal year ending in March 2019. pic.twitter.com/8GIyR7ZM4z— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 1, 2018
Nintendo itself has said that it prefers the Super Mario Run-style business model despite the fact that the game underperformed and did not meet its targets. It's unclear how much money Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp's microtransactions have made for the company, but it might make more sense for Nintendo to use a similar system for Mario Kart Tour. Players likely wouldn't be too happy with the business model, though.
Mario Kart is such a beloved franchise - as evidenced by the performance of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch - that fans will have lofty expectations for the mobile game. Nintendo, meanwhile, will have to take great care in bringing the franchise to mobile devices.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was criticized for being soulless and even celebrity players like Chrissy Teigen slammed the game on social media. Super Mario Run also received negative reviews, something which greatly impacted the game's early performance.
Nintendo's biggest challenge now is figuring out how to make money from Mario Kart Tour in a way that doesn't water down what fans love so much about the racing franchise. That's not a simple task but Nintendo has an entire year to figure it out.