Today, a senior Nintendo official made clear that Super Mario Run's premium pricing is the preferred business model for Nintendo on mobile. Moreover, the official revealed that Super Mario Run's revenue did not meet expectations.
While talking about Super Mario Run's shortcomings, the official made the comparison to Nintendo's second mobile game release, Fire Emblem Heroes. But even though Fire Emblem Heroes has proven more profitable as a freemium title, another Nintendo official described the game as an, "outlier."
Although Super Mario Run is another endless runner on mobile devices, its unique qualities include an upfront cost and no backend microtransactions. It, like many endless runners, features a timer system, which prevents people from playing more than a certain amount every day. Players can only participate in the Toad Rally, for example, five times per day using tickets.
It's this mixing of paradigms - game systems commonly associated with freemium games but with a premium cost - that has caused much of the controversy around Super Mario Run. It's probably also a significant contributor to the game's lack of success.
Super Mario Run is currently available to download for free on all platforms, but takes a one-time purchase of $9.99 to fully unlock. That's why it's not entirely clear whether Nintendo is endorsing one-time purchase mobile games or just the opposite with regards to the gacha model of Fire Emblem Heroes. Nintendo has previously implied that the free-to-start business model will be used with future games, but that may have changed in recent months.
If anything, Nintendo has shown that their approach to each mobile game is malleable. Super Mario Run has received significant updates surrounding what sort of content is available for free and how players access content after they've paid. And none of those changes have impacted Nintendo's dedication to constantly releasing new content updates for Super Mario Run or Fire Emblem Heroes. Nintendo is certainly dedicated to continued mobile development, even if the details are still in flux.
Super Mario Run is now available on iOS and Android devices.