Su­per Mario Run limp­ing start: Price, con­nec­tiv­ity mis­steps for Nin­tendo

World so far is un­der­whelmed

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Su­per Mario might be run­ning, but a hefty price tag for a mo­bile game just won’t fly with the masses. The world so far is un­der­whelmed by “Su­per Mario Run,” which Nin­tendo re­leased for the iPhone last week. This is no “Poke­mon Go,” which cap­ti­vated mil­lions of play­ers in their quest to col­lect dig­i­tal mon­sters at re­al­world lo­ca­tions. Nin­tendo’s stock price has fallen 7 per­cent on the Tokyo Stock Ex­change since the game’s Dec. 15 launch, and the game is rated just 2.5 stars out of 5 on the iPhone app store.

The prob­lem, it seems, is not with the qual­ity or de­sign of “Su­per Mario Run.” Both are top notch, with enough el­e­ments of clas­sic Mario to sat­isfy old-school Nin­tendo fans, along­side mo­bile-friendly fea­tures such as the abil­ity to play with one hand. Rather, Nin­tendo’s overly op­ti­mistic $10 price tag, as well as an in­ex­pli­ca­ble re­quire­ment for play­ers to be con­stantly con­nected to the in­ter­net while play­ing, could be enough to turn off all but the most hard­core fans. As of Mon­day, “Mario Run” was the top free app on iTunes. This, of course, is mis­lead­ing, as the app isn’t free if you want to play be­yond a few min­utes.

Au­da­cious price tag

Ten dol­lars is too much for a latte and too much for a mo­bile game, even if it comes with truf­fle shav­ings in the case of the latte and the world’s best known video game char­ac­ter in the case of “Su­per Mario Run.” Play­ers can down­load the game for free and play three of the 24 avail­able “worlds.” This takes only a few min­utes and leaves one ex­tremely un­sat­is­fied. It’s like din­ing at a pricey res­tau­rant know­ing you can only af­ford the ap­pe­tizer.

THE FIX: Nin­tendo should slash the price in half and of­fer more con­tent for free, says Jor­dan Edel­son, CEO of Ap­pe­tizer Mo­bile, a mo­bile app de­vel­op­ment agency in New York. Oh, and once the price is cut, it would be a good idea to make the game avail­able on An­droid, too. Af­ter all, most peo­ple in the world have An­droid phones. An­droid users tend to be less will­ing than iPhone users to pay for apps, so a price cut is es­sen­tial.

Stay­ing con­nected

The game re­quires a con­stant in­ter­net con­nec­tion. It’s un­der­stand­able with “Poke­mon Go,” which uses your phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion as part of game play. There is no ob­vi­ous rea­son need for it with “Mario,” and that just leads to frus­tra­tions. Why can’t one play on the sub­way? Or in air­plane mode on the air­plane as hol­i­day travel sea­son heats up? What if some­one is away from Wi-Fi and has a lim­ited cel­lu­lar data plan? Sorry!

In a state­ment, Nin­tendo said con­nec­tiv­ity “al­lows us to of­fer a va­ri­ety of fea­tures and ser­vices that en­hance the play ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘Su­per Mario Run’ is not a static ex­pe­ri­ence, but rather one that play­ers can con­tinue to re­turn to again and again to en­joy some­thing new and un­ex­pected.”

The fea­tures Nin­tendo cites in­clude the abil­ity to play across mul­ti­ple de­vices, lim­ited-time re­wards and ac­cess to player data and scores for chal­lenges with other play­ers. None of th­ese sound es­sen­tial to an en­joy­able play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE FIX: Drop the con­nec­tiv­ity re­quire­ment. “If you are try­ing to po­si­tion it as a ca­sual game (that can be played) with one hand, you want peo­ple to be able to play it wher­ever they are,” Edel­son says.

What Nin­tendo got right

If “Su­per Mario Run” gets over th­ese two big hur­dles, there is still a chance the game could be a suc­cess. Af­ter all, Nin­tendo fans have been wait­ing for a mo­bile Mario for nearly a decade, pretty much ever since mo­bile games have ex­isted, so they are likely to give the Ja­panese gam­ing gi­ant a sec­ond chance. With this much wait­ing, ex­pec­ta­tions have un­der­stand­ably been high. Crit­ics, who judge the game based on what it’s like to play it, have given it an av­er­age of 78 out of 100 on the game re­views ag­gre­ga­tor Me­ta­critic. This counts as “gen­er­ally fa­vor­able.”

And they are right. Nin­tendo has done a good job trans­lat­ing Mario’s clas­sic, side-scrolling world to a mo­bile screen. Mario runs with­out play­ers need­ing to do any­thing, so they can fo­cus on col­lect­ing coins and knock­ing out big­ger en­e­mies (usu­ally by jump­ing on them). The mu­sic is mu­sic to the ears of any ‘80s and ‘90s Nin­tendo fan, and yes, you can play with one hand. Users, though, have rated it 5.6 out of 10 on Me­ta­critic. Many are an­gry about the price and the in­abil­ity to play while com­mut­ing. And since it’s users and not crit­ics who will go out and buy the game - or not Nin­tendo may have a prob­lem on its hands. —AP

Th­ese images pro­vided by Nin­tendo shows a screen­shot from the game “Su­per Mario Run,” which the gam­ing gi­ant re­leased for the iPhone on Dec 15, 2016. — AP photos

NEW YORK: Ja­panese video game de­signer and pro­ducer Shigeru Miyamoto, left, and Se­nior Prod­uct Mar­ket­ing Man­ager of Nin­tendo of Amer­ica and in­ter­preter, Bill Tri­nen, make an ap­pear­ance at the Ap­ple SoHo store to pro­mote Su­per Mario Run for iOS. — AP

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