Even if you aren’t particularly excited about Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s restraint in the way they have approached the mobile and iOS scene has so far been commendable. The Big N is all too aware of their brand power and their loyal fans’ hunger for new content, and while we’ve seen that demonstrated by some shady decisions in their overall business scheme, it isn’t a direction they seem intent on following with mobile.
Indeed, it’s pleasing to see that the company isn’t just releasing mobile content with a cold view to garnering extra revenue. After all, Nintendo could have just released classic Mario and Zelda games for $5 on the App store, shoe horning in a touch control system; regardless of how poorly it played, Nintendo fans would have bought them by the dozens. I mean, who doesn’t want Super Mario Brothers 3 on their phone, right? Nintendo, however, seem to be genuinely keen to launch a quality Nintendo made mobile title, and even if runner games aren’t unique, that’s hugely encouraging.
You have to respect the restraint from the Big N. The company is taking a deliberate and calculated step into mobile gaming when it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine a big publisher mass releasing popular classics for easy money. We’ve already seen Square Enix do just that with the Final Fantasy series, and the same tactic would certainly pay dividends for Nintendo with a franchise such as Zelda or Pokemon, or Mario.
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Furthermore, even in the face of Pokemon GO’s monumental success, Nintendo have resisted the free to play model. Perhaps, after collating data from Miitomo, Nintendo have opted to invest in a one time pay title with their biggest IP to test the waters as comparison. For gamers, it is a move that we can only hope will prove effective and become the future of Nintendo’s mobile strategy.
On the subject of Nintendo’s strategy moving forward, another interesting takeaway from the Super Mario Run reveal was that the game will come to Android in early 2017, making it Nintendo’s first ever foray into a releasing one of their big first party IPs as a multi-platform release. What makes for even more interesting conjecture, given that we know part of Nintendo’s mission statement for the NX is to target the mobile gaming scene, is the notion that games upcoming mobile titles such as Mario Run might also become available on NX.
Could this be the catalyst for Nintendo’s multi-platform future, a trial run of sorts to test the water? At this stage, that might be asking too much. More likely, Super Mario Run will act as an advertisement for the franchise ahead of a Mario title specifically for the NX; a tactic that has already proven effective for the Pokemon series. Yet, for those that would suggest Nintendo might be best to drop hardware altogether and focus on software released across already established hardware, it makes for a fascinating case study.
In a market that doesn’t have a particularly stringent standards of quality, Nintendo’s approach has so far been refreshing. Nintendo seem determined not to stoop to Square’s rather shameless re-release strategy, or join the thousands of dismal mobile titles that employ grind-y gameplay loops to fuel micro-transactions. These are the scourge and by resisting the temptation to get sucked into using the mobile market as a corporate sideshow to garner extra revenue, Nintendo are sending all the right signals to their fans.
Ironically, this isn’t the Nintendo we’ve seen in recent years; the company having picked up a bad reputation for placing far too much emphasis on blatant commercial interests. What we want from Nintendo is a focus on what they do best; creating quality video game experiences. And even if Super Mario Run isn’t breaking any major creative boundaries, it is at least representative of Nintendo’s gaming philosophy. Most importantly, it’s a step in the right direction for Nintendo as a company and a positive sign of things to come from their mobile department.