As Nintendo takes its shot at the box office with “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” the first animated film featuring the iconic mustachioed plumber, the gaming company has been coy about …
Sitting down with Variety for this week’s cover story on the making of the film, Miyamoto said firmly, “Mobile apps will not be the primary path of future Mario games.”
After two moderately successful but dwindling iOS games, plus another that shuttered after two years, Nintendo is pulling Mario away from the mobile market. Released in 2016, Super Mario Run grossed $60 million in its first year, while 2019’s Mario Kart Tour has generated $300 million (compared to Mario Kart 8’s $3 billion and counting). Without explanation, Nintendo removed 2019’s Dr. Mario World from app markets two years after its release.
“First and foremost, Nintendo’s core strategy is a hardware and software integrated gaming experience,” said Miyamoto, who played a pivotal role in designing the Wii, among other Nintendo consoles. “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.”
Elaborating on the merits of Run and Tour, Miyamoto continued, “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.”
Referencing the innovation of the Super Mario Maker series and Super Mario Odyssey, which Miyamoto called “the ultimate evolution of a Mario adventure game on a typical 3D platformer,” the Nintendo exec laid out how the company begins to develop a Mario game: “We try to define what is the gameplay, what is the method, and then define what devices we go on.”
Mario isn’t the only Nintendo mascot on the mobile market. Currently, the company’s original IP is represented on the app store with Fire Emblem Heroes (developed by Intelligent Systems), Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Pikmin Bloom (developed by Niantic). But with the company’s modest victories come just as many misfires, with Nintendo ending service for Miitomo, Dragalia Lost and Dr. Mario World just a few years after each app’s launch.
With “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” opening in tandem with Universal Studios Hollywood’s Super Nintendo World, Nintendo fans are eager for the next mainline Super Mario game, following 2019’s Super Mario Maker 2 and 2021’s Bowser’s Fury expansion. It’s been nearly six years since the series’ last major installment — 2017’s groundbreaking Odyssey.