Mario Kart Tour has endured many ups and downs during its launch. On one hand, it has been downloaded over 20 million times, while on the other, it has received plenty of scorn for its overuse of microtransactions and overpriced subscription service.
The Gold Pass subscription service costs $4.99 monthly and offers some unspectacular rewards, despite the gold packaging. This begs the question: does the price outweigh the rewards? For some, it is hard to rationalize when there are new mass subscription apps emerging, offering hundreds of apps and games at the same going rate.
Bad Value With Unfair Content Blocking
Subscribing to the Gold Pass is currently the only way to unlock 200cc velocity races. This blocks off a significant amount of core content, which quite frankly, most fans don't seem willing to pay for. For those who do deem it worth the money, the Gold Pass also offers Gold Gifts - elite rewards for the completion of tours - and the option to participate in Gold Challenges to earn special Badges, which are good for bragging purposes only.
Not only does the subscription gate-off an entire racing mode, but the $4.99 monthly rate looks absurd next to the up and coming subscription services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass. Apple Arcade is set to host a selection of over 100 games, while Google Play Pass will grant access to over 300 apps and games. Oh, and they're both set at the same $4.99 monthly price tag as Mario Kart Tour's Gold Pass.
If that wasn't enough, the game is even losing in competition against its own developer. The Nintendo Switch Online subscription only costs $3.99. For this price, the subscriber gains access to a slew of games including the original Super Mario Kart. The value of the Gold Pass depreciates even further when you take into account that a year subscription to it alone is equivalent to a year's worth of Xbox Live Gold.
The Success Of The Mario Kart Series
The Mario Kart franchise has achieved groundbreaking success throughout its 25+ year history. Initial success was chalked up to the array of familiar landscapes and characters from the main Super Mario Bros. series. It was also quite likely due to being the first racing game of its kind. The selection of game modes (50cc, 100cc, 150cc) offered diversity not yet seen in other racing games of the time. Continued success is greatly attributed to its fantastic multiplayer experience, largely due to the vast selection of characters, karts, and tracks.
Gold Pass Puts The Entire Franchise In Jeopardy
Between cutting staple features of the main series to the ridiculous application of the Gold Pass subscription, Mario Kart Tour is a black mark on the Mario Kart franchise name.
As with their previous mobile titles, Nintendo opted for a one-handed style of gameplay (an ill fit for a racer). To do this, developers had to limit control functions, though the choice to do away with acceleration is highly questionable. Multiplayer also didn't make the cut. These cutbacks aren't doing the mobile spin-off any favors, however, the final nail in the coffin comes in the form of the Gold Pass.
Blocking core content behind such a high price tag is no less than a death sentence for a mobile spin-off title, especially when you can gain access to the original title and more, through a pre-existing (and cheaper) subscription service. The old titles are not what's still bringing in the revenue for the franchise. Instead, that responsibility lies with new and upcoming titles. If the Gold Pass fails to rake in the revenue, it could send the entire series into a downward spiral.
Unsinkable Ships Can Still Go Down
There have been countless game series that have fallen due to one bad apple. These were superb titles from all different genres. All it takes are a few bad calls, such as stripping away the wrong mechanics, littering games with microtransactions, or say, blocking off content that should be achievable without siphoning players' wallets.