The future of Mario games on mobile remains unclear

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto talked about the company's approach to bringing the Nintendo icon to mobile

Super Mario Run

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has opened up about Nintendo’s approach to bringing the iconic Italian plumber to mobile.

During a broader discussion with Variety about The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the legendary game designer was asked about Nintendo’s mobile aspirations for Mario. In response, Miyamoto said, mobile “will not be the primary path of future Mario games.”

On the one hand, that’s pretty obvious considering Nintendo has a major hardware business and games like Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are some of its best-sellers. It’s also in line with what Nintendo has been doing.

In terms of a traditional Mario platformer, the company has only released Super Mario Run on mobile, which debuted on iOS in 2016 and Android in 2017 to fairly positive reviews. However, the game’s premium monetization model made it far less successful than other Nintendo mobile games, particularly the free-to-play Fire Emblem Heroes, which has made over $1 billion USD (about $1.3 billion CAD).

That said, Mario did find more success on the mobile front with Mario Kart Tour, a free-to-play racer that has grossed over $300 million USD (about $403.6 million CAD). A third Mario mobile game, Dr. Mario World, was released in 2019 and shuttered just two years later after reportedly only earning around $14 million USD (about $18.9 million CAD) in that time.

On the whole, Nintendo has largely seemed to move away from mobile games, with the company only putting out the relatively low-key Pikmin Bloom in the past two years.

Elsewhere in the interview, Miyamoto elaborated on both the difficulties and rewards of pursuing Mario on mobile. On the one hand, he said it was “challenging” to translate the platforming action to a touchscreen, but he also noted how mobile “expands the doorway for far more audience to experience the game.”

That said, he called Super Mario Odyssey “the ultimate evolution of a Mario adventure game on a typical 3D platformer,” suggesting an interest in pursuing more along that style of game. “We try to define what is the gameplay, what is the method, and then define what devices we go on,” he said of Nintendo’s process when beginning development on a new Mario.

Ultimately, he didn’t formally shut the door on future Mario mobile games, but he didn’t suggest any more were coming, either. Instead, he said, “please stay tuned for future Nintendo Directs” when asked when we could expect the next mainline Mario game. While we did get new 3D Mario action in the Bowser’s Fury expansion included with 2021’s Super Mario 3D World port, the last fully brand-new mainline Mario was 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey. Therefore, it seems like we’re due for a new entry sooner rather than later.

For now, though, The Super Mario Bros. Movie is finally playing in theatres.

Image credit: Nintendo

Source: Variety