Super Mario Run has jumped its way onto iOS and experts believe this will be a major “1-Up” for Nintendo. Following a wave of Pokémon fever, Nintendo has entered the mobile games market with Mario’s first title on the platform. Shortly after the game’s announcement, over 20 million iOS users asked to be notified when it became available—if all of them purchased the game, it would make Super Mario Run more popular than the last three Super Mario Bros. games combined. While experts believe the game will be a success, just how much and why (or why not) may surprise us all.
“The nostalgia factor plays a key role here,” noted Joost van Druenen, CEO of SuperData, “as an entire generation of gamers suddenly, and finally, finds itself able to play one of their childhood franchises on their phone two weeks before the holidays.” Van Druenen is confident that Super Mario Run will be a big hit, and expects the game to be downloaded around 30 million times—generating approximately $600 million in its first month. While that sounds like a lot, this estimate is much less than Pokémon GO because Super Mario Run is only releasing on iOS this week, with no word on when it will launch for Android.
Updated: Per van Druenen: “Based on the early numbers we see coming in and the response from consumers, we expect Super Mario Run to initially earn on the lower end of our forecast, around $12-15M in its first month.”
Nostalgia played a major role in the success of Pokémon GO, which has held the number one position on mobile game charts since its launch in July and brings in a cool $2 million per day. Despite an initial craze that had everyone running out the door to play, the number of players is starting to slow, which may be perfect timing for Super Mario Run. “Now that the momentum behind Pokémon GO is starting to decline,” van Dreunen told [a]listdaily, “having another strong title arriving will allow the game, and Nintendo, to do well.”
Unlike Pokémon GO, which uses the ever-popular freemium model (free-to-play with optional purchases), Super Mario Run comes with a $10 price tag. Van Druenen doesn’t believe the price point will deter fans, however. “The only comparable title is Minecraft, which is priced lower and benefited from being an enormous pop-cultural phenomenon,” he said, adding, “I expect Nintendo to lower its price in Q1 of next year.”
Aside from price reduction, Nintendo will need to keep fans entertained and coming back for more, especially leading up to the release of Nintendo Switch in March. “Expansion packs will likely be [Nintendo’s] first tactic to keep people playing,” van Druenen said. “If demand is strong enough, there’s no reason to assume that Nintendo will cease developing more levels.”
Update: per van Druenen, “Requiring to ‘always be online’ is prohibitive and the game is still a bit too heavy-handed for quick-play on a phone.”
Findings from analytics firm, Newzoo echoes SuperData, predicting that Super Mario Run will be a hit simply because it’s Mario. According to Newzoo’s Game Franchise Tracker, the Mario brand is one of the strongest in gaming today, as the fourth-most-played gaming franchise globally in the past three months and number one in Japan. “Nearly three decades of relentlessly high-quality games of different genres have helped cement Mario’s reputation as a byword for excellence and fun,” said Newzoo in a statement. The firm added that 95 percent of people who play Mario games already play mobile games and 1.8 million of them are mobile big spenders.
Despite all this excitement, it’s not all wine and fire flowers for Mario’s mobile debut. Newzoo warns that by not launching on Android, Nintendo could leave huge revenues from 70 percent of the world’s mobile gamers behind, reminding us that a majority of Pokémon GO’s revenue comes from the Google Play Store. “With Pokémon GO, gamers could work around the US-only launch, as tens of millions of non-Americans changed their app store account settings,” observed Jelle Kooistra, head of Newzoo Mobile. “This time, the only workaround is to buy an Apple device. The immediate risk that Nintendo is taking is angering fans and increasing the chance of the game being ripped and distributed on Android illegally.”
Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo, predicts a more modest revenue stream at $100 million over the next few weeks, but sees Super Mario Run as part of the big picture for Nintendo rather than a standalone hit. “We anticipate that in a couple of years from now, smartphone and tablet games will account for at least half of Nintendo’s software revenues,” he said. “[December 15], Nintendo takes the first step. A small step for the industry, but a giant leap for Nintendo.”