Nintendo's Super Mario Run for iOS devices got off to a running start when it launched last Thursday for iPhones, iPads and iPods. But not everyone has been thrilled with the new endless runner from Nintendo... in fact, one surly group doesn't like Super Mario Run very much at all.
Polygon picked up the story from the Wall Street Journal, who reported that Nintendo has been seeing drops in their stock price over the past week, ever since the launch of Super Mario Run. The game made $5 million in the first 24 hours of release but didn't manage to take the top spots in Japan, despite being number one in the United States. The fact that the game wasn't as big on launch as Pokemon Go led investors on a downward spiral of disappointment, constantly pulling out of Nintendo's stock as a result.
The 7.1% share drop on Monday was mostly the result of middling review scores and the fact that investors feel as if Super Mario Run would perform better as a free-to-play title with a bunch of cash shop microtransactions. Instead, the game operates on a free trial with the rest of the game being unlocked for $9.99. Nintendo went the honest route, giving gamers the opportunity to buy-to-own the title without worrying about microtransaction pay-walls getting in the way of having fun. But therein lies the problem.
Investors and shareholders don't care about fun. They don't care about honest development, good gameplay, solid replay values or intuitive functionality. The only thing investors care about is making money, even if the product doesn't work, isn't very good, or has serious issues on the consumer front. Investors and Nintendo have completely opposite views on how to approach gaming, and it's the reason why there is some headbutting going on with how Nintendo is addressing the mobile market with a buy-to-own monetary structure for Super Mario Run.
What's interesting is that Nintendo was the one who saved the gaming market back in the 1980s after greedy publishers oversaturated the market with shovelware. We now see investors getting frustrated with Nintendo because they output a quality mobile title for a fixed price instead of creating carrot-on-the-stick microtransactions for a game focused on luring gamers to spend money at every turn.
Investors fell in love with Pokemon Go because it's microtransaction-based. You need to constantly resupply items, or purchase incubators or stock up on candy, etc., etc. The idea that you have to keep spending money to play Pokemon Go effectively means that Niantic Labs (and by proxy, Nintendo) keep making money. Investors love this kind of design for mobile gaming apps because any app that keeps people spending means it makes the companies more money and in turn makes them richer.
From a gaming standpoint, what investors want usually doesn't synch up well with what gamers and developers want. Nevertheless, sometimes there are compromises made where people are okay with the monetary models even when it doesn't really benefit them, such as Pokemon Go.
In the case of Super Mario Run, if gamers enjoy the experience from the free trial and want to play more, they can do so by paying $9.99 to unlock the rest of the game. Investors worry that Nintendo isn't doing enough to pad the cash shop and lure more gamers into the fold, and they also worry about a lack of future DLC plans for the game. Nintendo, meanwhile, plans on launching an Android version of Super Mario Run at some point in 2017, so it may help boost the overall revenue of the game... but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to satiate investors.