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Super Mario Run revenue fell short of expectations, says Nintendo

The free-to-try mobile game Super Mario Run didn’t sell quite as well as Nintendo had hoped, but the company still prefers its business model over freemium or ‘gacha’ games.

Sales of Super Mario Run, the inaugural mobile game for Nintendo’s mustached mascot, failed to meet the company’s expectations said Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima in an interview with Nikkei discussing the past and future of Nintendo's mobile aspirations. 

Super Mario Run is just one of several games in Nintendo’s growing mobile game portfolio, but the platformer’s free-to-try pricing model sets it apart from the company’s other titles. Anyone can download the game and play the first few levels, but players must drop $9.99 to unlock the full game. 

Though Super Mario Run topped mobile charts after its initial iOS release late last year, early reports stated that only 3 percent of downloaders went on to purchase the full game in its first month.

On the other hand, Nintendo’s other first-party horse in the mobile games market, the freemium game Fire Emblem Heroes, surpassed $5 million in revenue during its first week alone. Despite its success, a senior company official told Nikkei that Nintendo has no intention of doubling down on the freemium model. 

Rather, that official explained that Fire Emblem Heroes is considered an outlier and that the company still prefers the one-time-fee model of Super Mario Run to Heroes’ freemium structure.

Nintendo's reluctance to make the full freemium swap is a reflection of the fact that Nintendo sees its mobile game efforts as a way to bring new players to its games and ultimately expand the audience for its major console releases.

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