There’s no nice way to say this, so I might as well just say it outright: mobile gamers have a reputation for being cheap and stingy. Is it deserved? Sadly, I think it probably is. I mean, despite the fact that the average premium game on the App Store costs less than a Starbucks’ coffee these days, I still frequently see people saying things like, “looks great…but too expensive” or “meh, I’ll wait for it to drop in price/go free.” And that, folks, is why iOS as a gaming platform is in a lot worse shape quality-wise than it was a few years ago.

I bring this up because Nintendo’s announcement this week that Super Mario Run will contain a premium unlock IAP — priced at $9.99 — seems to have caused a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in certain iOS gaming communities. To be honest, I find all this consternation against Super Mario Run costing ten bucks baffling, especially since the only real alternative to Nintendo charging a fair price for the game is that it be free-to-play and full of ads, timers, IAPs, and other irritating, fun-sapping crap like that. Given the choice, I’d always prefer to pay a one-off upfront fee for a game, rather than get nickel-and-dimed to death by it later. I also don’t ever want to see Nintendo devalue their iconic characters by sticking them in crummy FTP titles.

So why are people so outraged about having to pay for what looks to be a quality game? Well — aside from the obvious explanation that they’re simply irredeemable cheapskates (who somehow happen to own expensive iPhones and iPads) — I’ve seen the fact that Super Mario Run is an auto-runner brought up repeatedly as a sore point. As if that makes it less worthy of a premium price. If you think this, you should check out Rayman Jungle Run, Lost Socks: Naughty Brothers and Super Powerboy, all of which are auto-runners and all of which are great. Okay, none of those games costs quite as much as Super Mario Run will (from what I recall most launched at around the $4.99 price point), but they also don’t star a character as big as Mario and they weren’t made by companies with track records as glowing as Nintendo’s is.

Anyway, rant over. Super Mario Run will hit the App Store on December 15th for the very reasonable price of free to try/$9.99 to buy… and I’ll eat my hat if it isn’t the biggest release of the holidays and one of the most successful iOS games ever.

  • Tyler Carr

    You do realize it’s not just a one time cost of $10? You have to factor in how much data it uses and how much that cost you everytime you want to play, since this app has to be connected to the Internet to play. It’s a dumb situation for Nintendo to put itself in. Do like Pokemon go and let the customer decide if they want to pay or not. There’s no ads on there, there’s no time limit to playing and yet it still makes a ton of money. Explain to me why it works there but wouldn’t here?

    • Hi Tyler, thanks for adding your input. This article was written well before the news came out that Super Mario Run will require an always-on internet connection to play. I’m disappointed to hear this too (as I’m often away from WiFi and don’t have a large data allowance). But according to Nintendo, it’s necessary for a couple of reasons: 1) To ensure the primary and secondary gameplay modes function properly together, and 2) to cut down on piracy. There’s an interview on Mashable that goes into a lot more detail if you’re interested:

      • Tyler Carr

        No I’m not interested in the article that has very little, if any, relevance to the what I asked. And you didn’t really answer how it’s not going to be possible for a game to not charge a purchase cost and not have ads and still make a ridiculous amount of money, like Pokemon go or any other app that’s ‘free’

        • So you’re basically asking, “Why isn’t Super Mario Run free like Pokémon GO?” The simple answer is that the free-to-play model isn’t suitable for every type or genre of game. Nintendo obviously did their homework and came to the conclusion that it makes better business sense to charge a one-off upfront fee for Super Mario Run than to rely on in-app purchases to generate revenue (like Pokémon GO does).