Mario, arguably the world’s most popular gaming IP, has had a complicated history on mobile platforms, and it appears that Nintendo will continue to focus on the franchise’s console games instead.
Super Mario Run director Shigeru Miyamoto told Variety in an interview that phones “will not be the primary path of future Mario games.” The Mario franchise first made the jump to mobile with the release of Super Mario Run in December 2016, which achieved over 200 million downloads by October the next year. While the franchise has seen enviable success with other mobile releases, such as Mario Kart Tour, other games such as Dr. Mario World have failed to engage players.
Miyamoto cited the different user experience of mobile platforms as a reason for the decision to focus on console development. “The intuitiveness of the control is a part of the gaming experience. When we explored the opportunity of making Mario games for the mobile phone - which is a more common, generic device - it was challenging to determine what that game should be. That is why I played the role of director for Super Mario Run, to be able to translate that Nintendo hardware experience into the smart devices.”
A different strategy
While other console developers, such as Microsoft and Sony, are making increasing attempts to break into mobile gaming, Nintendo has stated that it sees mobile as a means to market its console offerings, as opposed to a revenue generator in its own right. As such, a continued focus on Mario’s console offerings remains consistent with the company’s overall strategy.
Discussing the merits of phones as a gaming platform, Miyamoto stated “Having Mario games as mobile apps expands the doorway for far more audience to experience the game, and also expands the Mario gaming experience, where you only need your thumb on one hand.”
It’s worth noting that Miyamoto’s comments regarding the genericness of mobile platforms is in line with Nintendo’s strategy for console development. Whereas both Xbox and PlayStation have remained largely consistent from console to console, Nintendo is known for instituting new design philosophies with each new generation, from the focus on motion controls with the Wii to the hybrid Switch. As a result, it appears that Miyamoto believes that the relative consistency of mobile devices make it hard for any individual title to stand out, whereas Nintendo’s periodic shifts allow for even games within the same series to feel unique.
We listed Nintendo as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.