Nintendo Prefers Super Mario Run Pay-Once Model, Calls Freemium Structure of Fire Emblem Heroes an 'Outlier'

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    As Nintendo keeps launching new properties onto smartphones, the company has taken different strategies in regards to each app's payment model, including free-to-play (Miitomo, Fire Emblem Heroes) and pay-once-and-play (Super Mario Run). According to a senior official at the company, Nintendo actually "prefers" the Super Mario Run model over Fire Emblem Heroes, despite the more lucrative future that Fire Emblem Heroes' in-app purchases have in store for Nintendo (via Nikkei).

    According to Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima, Super Mario Run's revenue "did not meet" the company's expectations. Ahead of the game's release, it was reported that Nintendo was eyeing a pay-once model so that parents could download Super Mario Run for their kids without the added anxiety of in-app purchases appearing later in their iTunes purchase history.


    It appears that the gaming company still intends for most of its future apps to follow in Super Mario Run's footsteps and not those of Fire Emblem Heroes, with a senior company official referring to Heroes as "an outlier" in the grand scheme of Nintendo's mobile strategy.
    The company is believed to care more about expanding the reach of its intellectual properties to a wider audience and "aims to do more with its smartphone games than make money." Another goal for Nintendo is to mine the potential synergy future apps could have with the new Switch console, where players pick up the app to get hooked, and are convinced to further explore -- and spend more money -- on a larger version of the game.

    According to Nikkei, the long-term success of Super Mario Run will be measured in how well it turns new Nintendo fans into console players and buyers: "The game's true value will be measured by how much it expands the ranks of Nintendo fans and helps sales of the Switch."

    Last year, Isao Moriyasu -- Chief Executive of DeNA, Nintendo's mobile app developer partner -- said that the next two Nintendo apps would be "free-to-start apps," referring to Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing, which was recently delayed. Super Mario Run is technically free-to-start as well, allowing players to mess around with a few story levels and modes before asking for the monetary investment to unlock the full game. This week, that free section was expanded slightly in the game's version 2.0 update.

    Players can purchase game-boosting "Orbs" in Fire Emblem Heroes

    In terms of payment models, the distinction between Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run is clear, and it appears that Nintendo intends to keep focused on higher-priced gaming apps instead of the more popular freemium model. Looking towards the future, we still only know that Animal Crossing is set to appear next on mobile devices, likely sometime later this year. Unfortunately, today's news muddies the waters regarding that game's payment strategy, since it's now unclear whether it will lean towards Fire Emblem Heroes' freemium model, as Moriyasu said, or be part of Nintendo's preference for a pay-once option.

    Super Mario Run launched in December and saw massive launch day download numbers, but the app has since dwindled down the Top Grossing charts for the Games section of the iOS App Store, amid users raising uncertainties over its $9.99 price tag and always-online requirements. At the time of writing, Super Mario Run is the 117th game on the Top Grossing Games list, while Fire Emblem Heroes sits at the 48th spot.

    Article Link: Nintendo Prefers Super Mario Run Pay-Once Model, Calls Freemium Structure of Fire Emblem Heroes an 'Outlier'
  2. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    I think the biggest problem with Mario Run is that it has very little content. It is fun but it is slightly more superficial than I expected from a Nintendo product. Perhaps that is why it "underperformed"?

    I definitely would love to see the "pay to win" freemium model die.
  3. Porco macrumors 68030


    Mar 28, 2005
    They lost a sale to me when they announced the always-on requirement (and more to the point their apparent justification for it). An actual lost sale. Not paranoid, 'in their minds' sale-lost-to-piracy. Ironically.

    A shame, because I do far prefer the pay-once model to the 'freemium' one, so I was keen to reward that. But they chose to label me a potential pirate for daring to give them money. So ... nope. Sorry.
  4. LordQ Suspended


    Sep 22, 2012
    The pay-once method is always appreciated, but always-online is quite a dealbreaker to me.
  5. GubbyMan macrumors 6502


    Apr 3, 2011
    Of course Nintendo should not focus on anything more than user experience. It's not about getting as much money as possible, it's about providing an unforgettable experience which makes people want to buy their games for many years to come. This is how Nintendo has survived up until now and there is no reason to change this strategy. It's very similar to how Apple works and why we are all Apple fans today.
  6. iReality85 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2008
  7. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    I agree.

    Super Mario Run sits in this awkward position between freemium and $0.99 games and traditional AAA console game pricing. I would loved to see Super Mario Run go full AAA and charge more ($29.99) with far more contents.
  8. Zaft macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's already deleted because of always online mode.
  9. JCCL macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2010
    Good for Nintendo. While I was not a big fan of Super Mario Run due to the lack of content as others have mentioned, the freemium model now used by most companies have really turned me off from iOS gaming. Because of this Super Mario Run was actually the only game I installed on my iPhone last year, when before I used to have plenty of games. I really despise the having to pay every time I want to play or wait (or watching the same ad over and over to get additional lives) and prefer a flat fee. So freemium games will get no support from me while Nintendo will, if they get games with more content.
  10. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    Why is this such a big issue? Not being critical, I just don't understand.
  11. Zaft macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I take the train daily for work.
  12. 69Mustang macrumors 603


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    I think they were looking for more than an approx. 6.7% conversion rate from download to actually paying. Honestly, I would be looking for a better conversion rate myself. Problem is, mobile has trained and ingrained freemium into the brains (and wallets) of the consuming public.

    People like me who prefer to pay once are greatly in the minority. Neither good nor bad. Just is.
  13. springsup macrumors 65816


    Feb 14, 2013
    I didn't buy Mario because the reviews were pretty much universal: that despite the pricing model, it was still a freemium-style experience.

    I would definitely pay what they were asking for a game with more depth, though. Back in the day, I bought a GameCube basically solely to play Zelda: Wind Water and MGS: The Twin Snakes.
  14. Mouse man Suspended

    Mouse man

    Mar 9, 2017
    The always online is stupid as **** and the fact you don't have to ouch a button and Mario jumps still? Crappy ass game
  15. macs4nw macrumors 601


    Good to see some companies who realize greed is not always the best long-term strategy.
  16. emulajavi macrumors regular

    Dec 15, 2011
    They should release only a paid option of 4,99 or 5,99. A paid app. Not a free app with an in-app purchase.
  17. WRChris, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017

    WRChris macrumors 6502a


    Aug 17, 2016
    Super Mario run is full of content for 9.99. You can't even get a freaking amiibo for that. Has there ever been a side scrolling Mario game for less then 29.99?

    I'm stoked they don't want more "freemium" games. That's one of many major issues with mobile gaming today.
  18. Pamela5 macrumors member


    Jul 18, 2016
    Just like fire emblem, Mario was a a very watered down game of what we are used to on the 3ds, and should have been $5 but was $10 because its Nintendo. I wouldn't be surprised if animal crossing is $15 if they do intend to charge more for their mobile games and that will probably have 1/4th of the content you can get with animal crossing 3ds which is $20 now.
  19. odditie macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2004
    Super Mario Run was something I was excited for, but between the IAP and the actual style they came up with, I never even bought it, let alone bought it the 5 times they were hoping I'd do to unlock it for all five people in my family.

    The game just wasn't what I was hoping for, it was too forced in its controls. My kids never even asked to unlock the full version. They played it for a couple days and deleted it.
  20. nelsonammo macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2011
    Mad respect for Nintendo that they will acknowledge that F2P games like Fire Emblem Heroes have a terrible economic model.

    It just sucks that gamers now are so accustomed to the F2P model and skinner box / slot machine mechanics that F2P games generate way more revenue than one time purchase games.
  21. mrfoof82, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017

    mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2010
    Lawton, OK
    Never before played a Fire Emblem game before Heroes, and gave it a shot since launch.

    Still playing it, and still having fun with it despite not having spent a cent. For a game with an "energy" bar and a typical "gacha" game, Nintendo/Intelligent System has been incredibly fair and generous with giving out items like Stamina Potions, and Orbs (the currency used to summon heroes).

    I've not been particularly lucky with my summons either. I have the average number of 5* heroes for the number of orbs given out for free (that is, just a handful). I also only have a few very good heroes (in terms of default stats/skillset). However I'm able to complete the special events just fine (I just have to really think about my strategy), I can knock out quests with a bit of effort, I'm reasonably competitive in Arena (Top 5,000 - 10,000 which has been a challenge, but gets me plenty of "Hero Feathers" to upgrade the quality of my heroes), and I have plenty of stamina to level other heroes to build teams to cover specific niches.

    They've also been very responsive to community feedback. Several patches have already addressed concerns with arena favoring whales (i.e. scoring no longer favoring just best stats, which heavily favors people who can spend to pull very specific units), balance issues, usability issues, resource costs (no more stamina to change skills, more free orbs, more free potions/crests, upcoming patch for more free feathers, etc.) that were based entirely on community feedback from the F2P crowd. At this point, I feel the only thing keeping me out of the highest Ranks of arena is my skill, which continues to improve. It's been very satisfying to roll over a "whale team" of 5* Lucina/Takumi/Hector/Azura with a comparatively ragtag bunch of 4* heroes -- even if I fret over that battle for 15 minutes to ensure I can win with 3 or all 4 of my heroes surviving to maximize my score.

    Seriously, hats off to Nintendo/IS for Fire Emblem: Heroes! If you like a rock-paper-scissors strategy game that's accessible but has a lot of depth (especially with Skill Inheritance allowing for a very fluid Arena meta) for you to explore, it's pretty solid. It actually prompted me to pick up some older Fire Emblem titles to give the actual game series a shot, which was probably Nintendo/IS's goal for F2P players like myself.
  22. jamescobalt macrumors regular


    Mar 7, 2012
    Boston, MA
    I think it underperformed because they didn't communicate the importance of the coin challenges in the gameplay. Whenever I hear someone make a comment like yours, I ask if they completed all the coin challenges and the three "special levels", and most of the time, it's "what are you talking about?".

    The game has many, many hours of gameplay for its price, but people went into it with a certain expectation of what it means to play a Mario game, and Nintendo didn't do a good job subverting that expectation *even after people had reached the flags in all the main levels*.
  23. justafew macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2016
  24. Analog Kid macrumors 601

    Analog Kid

    Mar 4, 2003
    As soon as I saw the keynote demo of it, I was set to buy. I don't mind dropping $10 on a game if it's fun for a while, and I really hate the freemium nonsense. I don't mind buying content, but I learned my lesson back in the days of pumping quarters into Gauntlet every time Green Elf needed food, or Blue Valkyrie was about to die. It's just not fun if you can't make progress through skill alone.

    But the always connected bit killed the deal for me.

    There's the hassle of not being able to play on a plane, or when you're out of coverage, but mostly it's just the principle of the thing.

    I don't like my apps pinging servers for any monitoring reasons, and it's just insulting to say you want my phone to keep calling your server to prove I'm not a thief. It's like saying you want me to wear an ankle GPS to prove I'm not a shoplifter.
  25. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    Yeah, I did except for all the black coins... at which point it had become sorta tedious. The special levels were a huge disappointment. I agree, for $10 it is a decent value... it still feels... flat.

    Also somewhat understand frustration about always connected. Just surprising how many people so strongly object to it.

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