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Super Mario Run’s 200 million downloads didn’t result in “acceptable profit” for Nintendo

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Nintendo’s first mobile game, Super Mario Run, was enormously popular — but that doesn’t mean it was a success for the company. During its most recent earnings report, Nintendo revealed that Mario Run has been downloaded 200 million times, 90 percent of which came from outside of Japan. However, Nintendo says that despite these big numbers, the game has “not yet reached an acceptable profit point.” While Nintendo didn’t reveal any specifics with regards to conversion rates, a big sticking point for many with Super Mario Run was its comparatively large price point; it’s free to download, but requires a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock the whole game.

In contrast, Fire Emblem Heroes — which utilizes a more typical free-to-play structure, with plentiful microtransactions — has been a much more lucrative title for Nintendo. The company didn’t release specific numbers for the game, but says that Heroes’ success has largely been due to its continual updates since the game debuted in February. “For this title, we listened to the voices of our consumers and provided continual updates,” Nintendo says. “As a result, we are on track to meet our overall business objectives, including our profit objectives.”

Nintendo is looking to continue this success with the release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on mobile next month. Like Heroes, the game will utilize a more standard free-to-play structure, with in-app purchases that can be used to purchase consumable items and speed up certain in-game actions. “Our objective is to offer a service that allows even consumers who do not normally play games on a regular basis to have a little fun each and every day,” Nintendo says of the upcoming game.

As for Mario Run, while the game may not have been as profitable as Nintendo hoped, it has proven to be successful in other ways. It introduced the series to markets where Nintendo previously had no presence, and it appears to have had a positive impact on the just-released Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch — Nintendo says the console game has sold two million copies in its first three days of availability. It’s a similar phenomenon seen with Pokémon Go, which created an increased awareness that led to a big sales boost for the series on the Nintendo 3DS.

And, while the company didn’t detail any specifics, it sounds like there could be some notable updates and improvements coming to Super Mario Run at some point. “Our aim is for this application to be the definitive Mario application for smart devices,” the company says. “We have learned a lot in terms of game development and deployment that we want to take advantage of moving forward.”


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