Nintendo and developer DeNA's shares have declined over the weekend in reaction to negative user reviews facing the new mobile game Super Mario Run, which currently averages a 2.5/5 star rating on the iOS App Store, based on around 54,000 user reviews. Shares in DeNA have gone down 14 percent since Super Mario Run launched on December 15, while Nintendo's stock has fallen about 13 percent in the same time frame.
Although many of the top reviews for the game remark on Super Mario Run's better qualities, the harshest criticism remains to be Nintendo's decision to make the game free-to-download, but $10 to unlock all of its content. Users can play nearly all of World 1 for free, but gaining deeper access to the remaining five Worlds, along with Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder modes, requires the $10 fee.
Nintendo's argument has always been that the cost will help assuage parents' worries about their kids overspending on in-app purchases, but many users have now taken to the App Store to give the game a low score because of its cost. The always-on internet requirement has also been a sticking point for some players hoping to engage with the game during a commute.
A day after its launch, App Annie reported on the initial download numbers for Super Mario Run, and estimated that 10 million people downloaded the game, and that it made $4 million total in its first day of worldwide availability. Some have taken to comparing the game to Pokémon Go and its initial success, but as App Annie mentioned, the payment models of each game -- along with Pokémon Go's GPS-based gameplay -- means they "aren't truly comparable."
That said, it is important to bear in mind that Super Mario Run and Pokémon GO aren’t truly comparable. Pokémon GO follows a freemium model with optional in-app purchases to generate revenue. Its iOS revenue continued to grow in the following weeks as user engagement increased. Super Mario Run, on the other hand, offers a single $9.99 in-app purchase to unlock the full game. As a result, payments precede extended gameplay and, therefore, revenue is more likely to be concentrated early on in the game’s lifecycle.
According to App Annie, the real measure of the success of Super Mario Run will be in the weeks ahead as initial bulk downloads of the game at launch trail off, and shift towards mainstream users. "The ability to convert a meaningful percentage of these mainstream users into paying customers will be critical to Nintendo’s mobile ambitions."