And while it's unclear how much of a factor the less-than-positive reaction to its $9.99 price point has been in the latter, it's certainly fair to say that Super Mario Run has lacked the near-universal positivity that surrounded Pokemon GO.
It’s certainly taught Apple and Nintendo a lesson in how to relay this tactic to customers. Or whether the audience is really amenable to the concept of demos.
But just because Pokemon GO, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans are ‘free’ and doing fantastically well, it doesn’t mean Mario must be.
Perceptions of worth
I’ll admit, I’ve had fun with the concept of people putting hundreds, even thousands of hours of their time into games they spent nothing on or £50 for, while at the same time completely despising those same games.
Many people start playing games out of habit, even if they aren’t enjoying them as much as they used to.
Others will judge a game on its duration. If it “only lasted a few hours”, it should not be priced like other games. Or so the argument sometimes goes.
I don’t think games should be priced on the game length, but rather, the experience. Super Mario Run isn’t the best Mario game out there, that’s reserved for Nintendo’s own consoles, but it’s a decent game. And as a contained experience, it certainly won't outstay its welcome.
It’s worth £7.99.
You’ve seen worse movies than this that cost more, probably on the App Store.
Free-to-play has certainly played a part in distorting perceptions of value, while triple-A games getting bigger and bigger have also distorted value at the other end.
See how people reacted to ‘indie’ game The Witness and Jonathan Blow’s audacity to charge £29.99. For an indie game! (That had a full team behind it and was in development for years).
And just ask Ustwo what happened when it tried to charge for new content in Monument Valley’s Forgotten Shores.
There seems to lack a healthy middle, where the prices aren’t set – and shouldn’t need to be.
But between triple-A and free-to-play, many consumers are confused. There’s no comparable games of value to set expectations against.
But when it comes down to it, £7.99 for Super Mario Run is really not that expensive. Its console counterparts cost upwards of £40.
It just seems like it is.
Nintendo will need to identify the lessons of Super Mario Run for games like Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, which include being more transparent with pricing.
But that doesn’t mean they have to be free-to-play. A F2P Mario is a fundamentally different experience that would not fit the design of a 2D platformer the way Nintendo crafts it.
Billion dollar Mario
Another criticism I hear, mainly in the industry, is that Nintendo could have made more money with IAPs. Investors certainly seem to think so, while also being concerned by the reviews complaining of the cost.
Nintendo is using mobile mainly as a Trojan Horse for its own hardware. It’s a different strategy from Supercell and King.
It’s using mobile to get people familiar with its IP, while offering enjoyable experiences at the same time.
If you look at Pokemon GO’s impact, Niantic created a fantastic game that also spurred on record-breaking Pokemon Sun and Moon sales on the 3DS.
So the tactic seems to be: Enjoy Super Mario Run? Come play the new Mario on the Nintendo Switch!
I’d argue that, as a supplementary business to its main console ambitions, making “just” tens of millions of dollars without completely upheaving the design of a Mario game is a bargain for mobile consumers.
Unless you want to pay 79p to continue.
And honestly, if you don’t want to pay £7.99, just play something else. Nintendo doesn't owe it to you to be free, it just needs to be more transparent that it isn't.
Click through to the next page to see why our Features Editor Matt Suckley thinks the backlash is understandable.
Full disclosure: I worked at Nintendo between January 2016 and May 2016. I had no knowledge of Super Mario Run at this time.
Many of these are concerned with the $9.99 cost to unlock the full game. For some, the very idea of spending that kind of money on a mobile game is an affront.
For others, Nintendo's 'free-to-start' model has left them feeling hoodwinked after assuming they could play the whole game for free.
A leap too far
But who is more angry - those taking to the App Store to voice their frustrations, or those backlashing against the backlash?
Right now, it's a close run thing. Anyone who criticises Super Mario Run's price has been held up as an example of what's perceived to be a problem endemic in mobile gaming - the sense of misplaced entitlement to free content.
And I get that. If, like me, you grew up playing boxed games you paid for up-front and you care about the business and craft of game development, you'll want to defend a developer's right to charge money for their work.
But the backlash from some quarters shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone. And more importantly, those leaving negative reviews can't be blamed for expecting the full Super Mario Run experience for free.
And with good reason - it's a horrible idea, and precisely the kind of cynical thinking that gives free-to-play a bad name.
But if Super Mario Run been funded by balanced and fair microtransactions rather than a single $9.99 cost, would the game have prompted such a heated response?
Among its core fanbase and the press, almost certainly - the former particularly important to Nintendo, and the best possible argument for going premium.
But for the casual mobile gamer who's heard of Mario and wants something to play on the bus, the design compromises necessitated by free-to-play are hardly pressing concerns.
Questions of value
When discussing this at PG Towers, a superior - and one with the power to fire me, so I'll not contest his point too aggressively - compared Super Mario Run to a $9.99 bag of Gems in Clash Royale.
If people can spend money on F2P hard currency without a fuss, he argued, why can't they see the value of a “full game” for the same cost?
This got me thinking, and led me to believe this is where we are at odds in our thinking with the majority of mobile gamers. After all, what even is a “full game” in 2016?
You can complete Super Mario Run in one to two hours, albeit with additional pink and purple coins tempting you to play through the levels again and the competitive Toad Rally mode with its light kingdom-building metagame.
Clash Royale, meanwhile, is a game someone could feasibly play for hundreds and thousands of hours, year after year, with new content added all the time.
If either has a greater claim to being a “full game”, it's not Super Mario Run.
Mario the outlier
As a value proposition, then, a $9.99 bag of Gems becomes more understandable - disposable it may be, but the impact it has on a player's long and ongoing journey could be vital.
One is not superior to another, of course. But the race to the bottom on mobile has already been resoundingly won, and we have to now accept that free-to-play is the new normal. It's what people expect.
A proposition like Super Mario Run's is certainly no less valid, but in this market it's fast becoming utterly alien - and we can hardly criticise those who have had F2P drilled into them for being shocked at more traditional pricing.