Nintendo's mobile Mario game sets download record but pricing proves sticking point

Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:43pm EST
 
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By Makiko Yamazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd's (7974.T: Quote) first Mario smartphone title has set a download record but gamers have baulked at the one-time cost of unlocking content, pushing the Japanese game maker's stock to a one-month low.

Super Mario Run topped 40 million downloads just four days after its Dec. 15 release in 150 countries on Apple Inc's AAPL. App Store, becoming the fastest game to reach the milestone in App Store history, Nintendo said.

But Nintendo shares have lost 13 percent since the launch as the latest game to feature the princess-rescuing Italian plumber received negative reviews from users mainly complaining about its $9.99 one-time cost, rather than the usual model of paying small amounts for special features.

"Mario is arguably the most popular gaming franchise in the world, yet we see only about 8 percent of those who try the game actually purchasing it," said Sensor Tower analyst Spencer Gabriel.

"I don't think this is a statement on the game's quality ... but rather the perceived value when compared to free-to-play games that offer much more content with optional microtransactions that enable players to experience it sooner."

Super Mario Run is free to download on the App Store where, in Japan, it is rated 2.5 stars out of 5 based on 1,095 reviews.

"This is a fee app disguised as a free app," wrote reviewer Racing Game Guy. "You need to pay after playing for 10 minutes. I don't mind paying but the fee is a bit big. It's a disappointment after waiting with so much expectation."

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Takuya Nishya shows Nintendo's "Super Mario Run" game on his smartphone by the request of a photographer in Tokyo, Japan, December 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon