Nintendo last week confirmed the development and future release of Mario Kart Tour: its first official Mario Kart-inspired game for smartphones and tablets.
While additional details about the title remain under wraps until further notice, we now have at least an idea of how the company plans to profit on it, courtesy of a Tweet published by The Wall Street Journal’s, Takashi Mochizuki.
According to Isao Moriyasu, CEO of long-time Nintendo partner DeNA, Mario Kart Tour will be another free-to-start offering.
What Does Free to Start Mean?
The term ‘free-to-start’ implies that Mario Kart Tour will be free to download and free to play up until a certain level is reached or achievement is unlocked.
Even though Mario Kart Tour could be a fully-loaded console-caliber game right out of the gate when it launches, only a small portion of its content will be available to enjoy for “free.” The rest will cost you in seemingly endless, increasing amounts; though we have no exact pricing details at this time.
Worth pointing out its that Mario Kart Tour won’t be Nintendo’s first ‘free to start’ mobile game, which may or may not bode well in the long run.
Just last week, in announcing the game’s development Nintendo executives confirmed that Super Mario Run (its other, Mario-themed ‘free to start’ title) failed to meet the company’s profit expectations in 2017.
Not only that, but some so-called ‘free to start’ games have even been derided for their unsavory, controversial profit tactics, which have in the past included “play to win” schemes, or encouraging players to spend money as a means of advancing or receiving “mystery loot boxes.”
It’s unclear, at this point, what kind of features, characters and/or capabilities might be available for free when Mario Kart Tour launches. It’s likely that, in addition to Mario, the game will include other iconic Nintendo characters like Princess Peach, Bowser, Yoshi and more — and we’re equally likely to see a wide range of iconic courses (Rainbow Road, Ghost Valley, Koopa Troopa Beach) — but if the game will be ‘free to play at first’, we have to wonder how many of them will actually be “free.”
Given we still have over a year until its March 2019 debut, it’s safe to say that anything could happen between now and then — though the likelihood of Nintendo learning from its mistakes appears increasingly slim.
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