As the first step in Nintendo's mobile efforts, Super Mario Run has been successful, but not as successful as the company would've hoped. The game has been exclusive to iPhone since December, launching on Android platforms last Thursday. While the title is a free download, to unlock the rest of the game players have to pay $9.99.
Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told Nikkei that revenue from the game "did not meet our expectations."
With its business model, Super Mario had a strong start on the Apple App Store. The problem was two-fold. One, many mobile users are used to the free-to-play business model, which saw some users turn against the game once faced with the price tag. Two, the pay-once model means Super Mario Run's earnings have hit a plateau; at some point most of the people who would likely buy the game have already done so.
Fire Emblem Heroes has been the real winner for Nintendo, raking in sales since launch. The game features a random draw of heroes and players can buy orbs in-game to continue to pull more. This mean a number of players have spent a great deal of money trying to pull their Fire Emblem favorites.
Despite that, Nintendo is hoping to make the free-to-play business model rare in its efforts.
"Heroes is an outlier," a senior company official said. "We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model."
For Nintendo, the mobile side of things is all about propping up their traditional properties. Much like how Pokemon Go boosted sales of Pokemon games on 3DS, Nintendo is hoping Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and the upcoming Animal Crossing can do the same for their console counterparts. Currently, all that's missing are new versions of each franchise on the 3DS or the Nintendo Switch.