Super Mario Run — How Expensive Should Mobile Games Really Be?

Super Mario Run is certainly a cut above the endless stream of garbage the mobile industry likes to vomit out, but is it worth the unusually high price?

The mobile gaming market is a fascinating place. While there has been the odd critically acclaimed title which breaks new ground and tries something new, Monument Valley for instance, the market often receives criticism for its oversaturation of tired genres and a knack for greedy in-game micro-transactions.

However, Nintendo may have sparked a switch in the formula. During an Apple press conference, in which the distraught iPhone 7 tragically misplaced its headphone jack, Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and The Legend of Zelda, sauntered on-stage to announce Nintendo’s plan to introduce a brand-new variety of mobile games. Naturally, this big announcement was met with immediate surprise at a company renowned for appearing unable to evolve their consoles with the times, but ultimately this was exciting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have potentially the most iconic video game franchise in history, Super Mario, in their pocket?

When I first gave it a shot, I found myself fully invested in the gameplay, developing an aggressive desire to collect every coin in every stage. Then, after about an hour of challenging, free-to-play fun, there was a roadblock.

£8. £8 was what the game requested I spend in order to unlock the full experience.

This is the big kerfuffle everyone seems to be making. For someone like myself, who spends upwards of £40 on XBOX One games, this wasn’t a big surprise nor an issue. However, the mobile market is very different, with many ‘casual gamers’ enjoying games as a fun way to pass five minutes, and nothing more. As a result, this same group were caught off guard by this price tag. Check the reviews on the App Store for the game, and you will find a wide array of angry consumers frustrated by the mere concept of spending over 59p on an application.

This does usher in the question, however: what is too expensive for a mobile game? It is important to keep in mind how much Nintendo likely spent hundreds and thousands of pounds on Super Mario Run’s development, so it is important to match profits. Whilst free games can make money through advertisement or those dreaded micro-transactions mobile games are so hated for, they aren’t a particularly consumer-friendly solution. In the case of Mario, the player receives the entire package in one purchase, with no barriers thereafter. With the increasing popularity of DLC in the console market, this business practice is nearing extinction, but it is one that could work for mobile games.

Another factor to address is how much content is available for the hefty sum of £8. Video game length is more of an issue than ever, and the high pricing has become questionable in recent years. For mobile games, however, this is less of an issue. Typically, this market aims to make games as addictive as possible, to prolong play time. However, Super Mario Run allows the player to decide how difficult they wish the game to be, with various challenges and modes. This adds a ton of replayability to the game, helped greatly by the branching level design.

So is Super Mario Run too expensive? Personally, I think £8 is perfectly adequate for a game packed full with entertainment. At the end of the day, however, it’s consumers who give the final judgement. What’s the verdict, then? Would you prefer to stick to those Cookie Clickers and Bejewelleds, or gift some time to our favourite, friendly Italian plumber in the distinguishable red hat?

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