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Nintendo left a lot of money on the table by making Super Mario Run too expensive

Nintendo's Super Mario game character is pictured at a video game corner of SHIBUYA TSUTAYA in Tokyo, Japan
Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
It could have been the perfect present.
  • Joon Ian Wong
By Joon Ian Wong

Technology Reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Super Mario Run has been a hit in terms of downloads since it was released Dec. 15, but it’s struggling to convince players to shell out the $9.99 required to complete the game. One criticism has been that the price is simply too dear for a freemium game. As a result, Nintendo’s stock price is tanking—down over 19% since Super Mario Run was launched (though it’s still well up on the year).

What if Nintendo had been prescient enough to launch Mario on iOS with a lower price? That’s what Apptopia, an analytics firm, wanted to find out. It modeled Super Mario Run’s revenues at its current, $9.99 price, and compared that to its potential performance at $1.99. The estimates show Nintendo would have raked in an extra $20.8 million if it priced Super Mario Run more sensibly.

Apptopia generated its model using historical trends from Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s other mega-hit this year; the tendency for app downloads to shoot up over the holiday season; and sales estimates for games at lower prices.

Super Mario Run’s pricing model makes it difficult to compare with other games. It’s free but charges a flat fee for players to complete the game, whereas most other freemium games encourage players to spend as much as they like to speed up progress. But a glance at the paid apps rankings on the US App Store, from analytics firm Sensor Tower’s data, shows that half of the top 10 titles currently charge $0.99 each, while the most expensive title is Mojang’s Minecraft at $6.99.

It looks like Nintendo’s hefty price tag was simply asking too much of Mario’s fans. After all, it’s not as if gold coins are simply floating in mid-air for the taking.

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