Will "Free-to-Start" Super Mario Run Be Worth $10?

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Earlier this week, Nintendo confirmed that its upcoming platformer Super Mario Run will launch on iOS on December 15th as a free-to-play game which will offer a full gameplay experience for a one-time fee of $9.99. The wording of the announcement suggests that the Android version of Super Mario Run that's hitting the Play Store in early 2017 will be based on the same business model. This is the same monetization method utilized by Telltale who publish five-episode mobile adventure series and offer the first episode for free as a demo of sorts for the full experience. The only difference between Telltale's games and Super Mario Run is that the latter won't offer the game in a handful of smaller chunks; after you finish the free portion of the title, you can only pay $9.99 to access the rest of the content.

Now, seeing as Super Mario Run is an endless runner sort of game, it's not surprising that many aficionados of mobile gaming met this announcement with skepticism. Is a Mario-themed Temple Run really worth $10? Of course, the answer to that question will depend on the type of consumer who's asking it, but in the context of quality mobile gaming experiences, $9.99 isn't an outrageous price tag. The likes of Square Enix, Aspyr Media, and HyperDevBox have already proven that you can make money with a premium mobile game. With that said, none of these developers ever tried charging such a one-time fee for a casual mobile game, but then again, Nintendo was never one to blindly follow latest industry trends. Sometimes that approach led to great success like the one accomplished by the original Nintendo Wii, other times – things didn't quite work as planned.

Regardless of that, the Nintendo brand is still synonymous with quality when it comes to video games, and the Japanese entertainment company is presumably trying to bank on that fact. It's also worth noting that the announcement of the Super Mario Run business model explicitly stated that the game won't have any microtransactions in the future. So, presuming that Nintendo is willing to support this portable platformer with regular content updates for years to come, that $9.99 price tag suddenly seems a lot more attractive. In other words, Nintendo fans and people who don't mind paying for quality mobile gaming experiences probably won't deem Super Mario Run too expensive. With that said, let's hope that us Android gamers won't have to wait too long to get our hands on the first official Mario mobile game ever created.

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