Dr. Mario World, Nintendo's latest free-to-play mobile game, released today on Android and iOS with some pretty aggressive in-app purchase options. It seems Nintendo is trying to introduce kids to the reality that medical professionals don't come cheap.
The new game, based on the 1990 Tetris-ish puzzle game for the NES, has been updated to appeal to the Candy Crush audience: with features like daily log in bonuses, community interaction, and sweet, sweet premium currency.
Nintendo, who has already gained a bit of a reputation for being opaque with mobile pricing, has come out of the gates with this new one wearing their greediest mitts. Here's how the pay-to-play structure of Dr. Mario World breaks down:
There are 3 types of currency in Dr. Mario World: hearts, gold, and diamonds. Hearts are used to play, it costs 1 heart each time you play a level. You can only hold 5 hearts at a time and hearts regenerate at a rate of 1 every 30 minutes. When you run out of hearts after playing only 5 levels, you won't be able to play again for at least a half hour. If you've spent any time with mobile games this is probably a familiar mechanic to you, and you already know what comes next.
Yes, you can buy more hearts. Hearts can be purchased using the premium currency, diamonds, which are purchased with real money. This added layer of buying money so you can buy something else is a common tactic that mobile games use to obscure how much you are spending in the game. Lucky for you, we did the math.
5 hearts costs 10 diamonds, while 60 minutes of infinite hearts costs 30. This second option is by far the better value, so we'll ignore the 5 heart price and just discuss the unlimited play for an hour option.
Of course, you can't just buy 30 diamonds. This is another common mobile tactic, selling you slightly more than you need means you will always hold a balance of premium currency in your game, making you more likely to spend more as you are just that much closer to the amount you need.
In order to play for 60 minutes with unlimited hearts, you'll need to purchase the 50 pack of diamonds for $4.99. Granted, you'll have 20 diamonds left over, so you can buy another pack of 50 for $4.99 and play for 2 more hours, but then you'll have 10 left over... I guess you can then buy the pack of 20 for $1.99 to round it out for a 4th hour, but at that point you've spent $12, might as well get the pack of 110 for $9.99 right? You get the idea.
As an additional "F.U." to the player, there is a one-time new player option available: 75 diamonds for $4.99. What value! If you've seen The Jimquisition's recent video "The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization" you know that this is indeed yet another tactic intended to hook players into paying early and often. Come on Nintendo, we trusted you!
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