Nintendo has announced that it will begin testing a multiplayer option for its Mario Kart Tour mobile game in December, a step towards the full multiplayer mode that's considered essential to the mobile title's success.
The announcement came on Friday via the Japanese video game giant's official Twitter account and explained that access to multiplayer would initially be limited to Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass subscribers.
Mario Kart Tour for iOS and Android devices currently lacks the option to race against friends, leaving it shorn of the vital game mechanic that has helped make it one of Nintendo's longest running franchises on console.
Nintendo's latest smartphone app was downloaded over 90 million times in its first week, according to Sensor Tower. The number eclipses both Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Super Mario Run, which were downloaded a respective 14.3 million times and just under 13 million times in their debut week, making Mario Kart Tour Nintendo's biggest mobile game launch to date.
Announced in January 2018, the game was delayed several times before its debut in September. The game's optional "Gold Pass" subscription introduces various in-game items and badges and also unlocks the faster 200cc mode. Nintendo is offering a two-week free trial, after which it costs $4.99 a month.
Mario Kart Tour is a free download from the App Store, requires iOS 10 or later to play, and officially supports iPhone 5s or iPad Air and later devices. A Nintendo Account is also required to play the game. [Direct Link]
Nintendo today kicked off the beta for its mobile game Mario Kart Tour, limited to Android in Japan and the United States. Thanks to players starting to get their hands on the game, we now have a video and a few screenshots of Mario Kart Tour that provide a good idea of what you can expect from the mobile version of Mario Kart (via iGeneration).
Images via iGeneration
Like the console versions of the franchise, Mario Kart Tour is a kart racer set in the Mushroom Kingdom, tasking players with surpassing their rivals by using drifts and items to gain an edge. Mario Kart Tour appears to use the same single-handed control scheme as Super Mario Run, allowing players to swipe with their thumb to control their karts (or choose motion controls), while the kart accelerates on its own.
Tracks are taken from previous iterations of Mario Kart, including the original Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Double Dash, and Mario Kart 7. There are Grand Prix cups as well that contain a collection of tracks to race through, but each track only includes two laps (instead of the typical three lap structure of most Mario Kart races).
The game's default controls automatically cause karts to drift around corners, but anyone wanting more of a challenge can turn on manual mode. There are four levels of difficulty (50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and 200cc) and the same soundtrack used in previous games in the franchise.
In screenshots, many of the expected Mario characters can also be seen as playable: Luigi, Toad, Shy Guy, Waluigi, Peach, Toadette, and more. According to some beta testers, character unlocks will be the big in-app purchase for the game, with some drivers considered "rare" and coming with advantages during races like having unique items and track-specific bonuses.
Looks like Mario Kart Tour beta is pretty hardcore with regards to monetization.
Multi-level gacha for drivers, karts and gliders.
Rare drivers have advantages during races.
Stamina system limits races available on an hourly basis.
This is similar to other Nintendo mobile games, allowing players to download the game for free but encouraging in-app purchases to boost gameplay. Players in the beta can't buy anything at this time, however, so it's unclear what exactly will be for purchase when the final game launches.
As Mario Kart Tour gears up for a launch later in the summer, Nintendo has faced some issues for its current mobile titles in Belgium (via The Verge). Due to Belgium's recent laws that categorize video game loot boxes as gambling, Nintendo is shutting down Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes in Belgium effective August 27, 2019.
After that date it will be impossible to play and download these games in the country, and in the future any Nintendo games with similar earnings models will not be released in Belgium. The controversy over loot boxes in gaming has been escalating over the past few years, and given the worldwide success of Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo's decision to shut down the game completely in the country proves how big of an issue this is for Nintendo.
For Mario Kart Tour, the beta will last through June 4 on Android. The final release date for the game on iOS and Android will be sometime this summer.
Nintendo last week announced that its next mobile game will be "Mario Kart Tour," but with a launch date aimed at any time before the company's fiscal year ending March 2019, not much information is known about the game. Today, DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu was reported as saying that Mario Kart Tour will be free-to-start (via TouchArcade and The Wall Street Journal).
The "free-to-start" terminology is somewhat vague, but when compared to Nintendo's previous use of the phrase it could suggest where Mario Kart Tour is headed. For example, Nintendo currently describes Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp as free-to-start on the game's website, while Super Mario Run's website explains that "you can download and enjoy a portion of Super Mario Run for free."
DeNA CEO said "Mario Kart Tour," a Nintendo-DeNA smartphone game planned for FY18, will be free-to-start.
While far from a definitive answer, this suggests Nintendo might lean towards its recent trend and make Mario Kart Tour a game that's free to play, with in-app purchases that help with certain tasks. Out of Nintendo's four mobile games so far, three have followed this model (Miitomo, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp), while only Super Mario Run has used the pay-once price tier.