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Why Nintendo should ignore Super Mario Run’s poor reviews

Nintendo’s first gaming app for iPhones is megapopular, but it is also annoying some iOS gamers because it ignores the free-to-play business model.

Super Mario Run is free to download (review), but it requires a $10 purchase to unlock all of its content, and that has led to scores of negative user reviews on the iTunes App Store. After nearly 60,000 reviews, it has 2.5 stars out of 5 on Apple’s platform, which makes it one of the worst-reviewed top-grossing games. While plenty of the reviews complain about glitches and how this isn’t a “real Mario,” many of the harshest reviews deal with the price.

“The problem is not that they expect you to pay past a demo,” reads a review from iOS user Tammi. “The problem is the price they’re charging. For a game with little content, entirely recycled assets except for a few animations, and grind-heavy gameplay, $10 is exorbitant.”

But Super Mario Run is doing OK financially even with the negative user reviews. According to intelligence firm Sensor Tower, it is the fastest iOS app ever to 25 million downloads and it has generated around $21 million in spending. That’s an average revenue per player (ARPU) of approximately 84 cents. Considering Nintendo likely hasn’t spent a lot of money on marketing, one of the more costly aspects of acquiring new players, 84 cents per download is impressive. In 2014, developer Supercell’s Clash of Clans — one of the biggest mobile games ever — had an ARPU of $1.31, according to SuperData Research. But that number doesn’t take into consideration something like spending $9 million for 60 seconds of airtime during the National Football League’s Super Bowl in early 2015.

So, for now, Nintendo doesn’t need to listen to the complaints. It’s likely that the people who don’t want to spend $10 on its game probably also wouldn’t spend $5 or even $1. And the game is doing fine without their money.

For more on this, be sure to check the video above that features a clip from this week’s GamesBeat decide podcast where the crew discusses this topic in depth.

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