A recent Nintendo survey asked a subset of Super Mario Run players who linked the game with their My Nintendo account how much they’d be willing to pay for the full game.
As you know, Super Mario Run can be downloaded at no charge, but a $9.99 upgrade is required to remove the restrictions from the three game modes and unlock its content beyond the first four levels of World 1.
Some people were so disgruntled with the high upgrade price that they wrote poor reviews on App Store, causing Nintendo’s share price to fall. Wouldn’t it be great if Super Mario Run was a free to play title like Pokémon GO is? Well, PocketGamer took it upon itself to create some very illustrative mockups that imagine the parallel universe where Super Mario Run is free to play.
For starters, the free-to-play model would probably limit Mario’s energy.
That, in turn, would be a great excuse to put a prompt asking you to pay up every time Mario runs out of energy. You’d be cunningly offered to wait around rather than purchase an energy upgrade because smart developers know players hate to wait.
PocketGamer didn’t pull those mockups out of thin air: they’re based on common IAP limitations in free-to-play games like Candy Crush, Asphalt and many others.
In all likelihood, the reliance on the free-to-play model would result in a lot harder game. The more often you died, the more likely you’d be to cough up cold hard cash to continue playing uninterrupted.
Or perhaps you’d rather watch a pesky ad before you could try again?
In the free-to-play Super Mario Run version you’d also have a persistent bubble collection, as opposed to receiving two bubbles when you start a level. As soon as you used Mario’s bubbles up, you’d be pushed to top them up via—you guessed right—In-App Purchases.
And with many, many other paid boosts potentially sold as In-App Purchases, the free-to-play Super Mario Run would definitely “destroy any sense of competition and make the leaderboards a farce,” in PocketGamer’s own words.
Now, you take a really close look at those screenshots and you tell me with a straight face that you’d happily play Super Mario Run with all of the nagging restrictions of the freemium model. Seriously, would you really rather play Super Mario Run if it were a free-to-play game than pay ten bucks to enjoy everything it offers, like today?
Is this what you really wanted? Be careful what you wish for.