Nintendo's latest offering to mobile gamers, Mario Kart Tour is now a week old. Since the game was downloaded twenty million times in its first day, it's probably safe to assume most people reading this have at least given the game a try. However, many of those millions might have been quickly put off the game thanks to something Nintendo continues to fall foul of in the mobile gaming world... Microtransactions.
The potential audience when it comes to mobile gaming cannot be ignored. Nintendo and any other game developer would be fools if they didn't hop aboard the bandwagon. The first mobile game featuring our favorite red-clad plumber was Super Mario Run. That title didn't feature microtransactions, just one big transaction after the first few levels. Run might have been downloaded 200 million times, but its success will be judged on how many players chipped in $10 to play the full game.
Mario's next foray onto mobile arrived earlier this year in the form of Dr. Mario World. With this title, Nintendo went too far in the other direction. It jumped in feet first to the controversial world of microtransactions. Players have a limited number of hearts and have to cash one in to attempt a level. Run out of those hearts, and players either have to wait for them to regenerate or pay real-world money, should they want to carry on.
The biggest issue of all when it comes to the fight against microtransactions, whether pushed on us by Nintendo or otherwise, is players' willingness to pay them. Mobile games haven't become rooted in microtransaction-style systems by accident. Players might be unwilling to pay for mobile games upfront, but seem all too happy to throw money at microtransactions in a free to play title. So much so. in fact, that this method of monetization is starting to leak over into the console world.
Evidence of that appeared via Super Kirby Clash on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo took fans by surprise with the sudden release of the latest Kirby game. That announcement included the words every gamer hates to hear: "free-to-start." That's right, we officially have a Nintendo console game that includes microtransactions. Thankfully, upon playing the game, it quickly becomes clear that there's no need to spend real money on it in order to enjoy it. Nevertheless, it is still an example of microtransactions leaping off of your mobile phone and into your Switch.
That brings us back to Tour, another Nintendo mobile game riddled with microtransactions. Even worse, Nintendo has thrown in a monthly subscription system for players willing to fork over even more cash. Should players wish to take part in 200cc races and access other perks, they'll need to pay $4.99 per month for Tour's Gold Pass. Honestly, that combined with the game's pipe-firing gacha system is a bit too much to handle.
The most worrying question of all is not where will this end, but where is it leading? Despite vociferous protests against microtransactions in all their forms, Nintendo continues to test its waters more and more. Plus, despite the protests, as mentioned above, people are clearly still willing to hand over their hard-earned money and accept what is now the basis of mobile gaming. The future of gaming could see microtransactions become a key part of every game, regardless of platform. If people continue to accept them, why wouldn't developers take that route?