With Super Mario Run now announced for a December release on iOS, plenty of talk has been on its potential success, the boost to Nintendo profits and similar numbers-based areas of conversation. For Nintendo these are clearly considerations, though for Shigeru Miyamoto the interest is in the number of players the game can win over, rather than how many millions it adds to Nintendo's profits.
Though arriving initially on Apple devices only, the goal is for audience expansion. Speaking to The Verge, Miyamoto-san expressed the hope that Run can be a gateway game, and that players are "going to want to play a much more in-depth and a more challenging Mario experience … it's going to increase the population of people interested in coming to our platforms, which of course is our main focus."
Accessibility and simple gameplay are also key, with Miyamoto-san earning laughs from the audience at the Apple event when talking about playing single handed while eating a burger at the same time.
Pokémon Go is obviously a game that uses your GPS and it's synced into the camera and Google Maps, so it's a piece of software that's really geared towards that mobile play experience. So, similarly with Mario, what we're looking at is simple game play, one-handed gameplay; shorter play time, playing in shorter bursts; and then really bringing the joy of Mario to that much larger audience.
There's an element of practical thinking at play, too, with Nintendo evidently acknowledging its evolving place in the gaming landscape. A key target is getting Mario into the heads of young children, and Miyamoto-san observed that young kids now often play on their parent's smart devices, these "being the first place these kids are encountering games, [it's] what helped us to decide to bring this to smartphones".
All of this mobile talk naturally causes anxiety around the future of Nintendo's dedicated gaming console business, though there's been no serious suggestion that Nintendo is moving away from that focus. Quite the contrary, in fact, but Miyamoto-san did move to assert the importance of dedicated gaming systems and their Mario experiences.
When you start to talk about the 3D Mario games particularly, where you're running around in a space and exploring and things like that, I think something like that is still difficult to achieve on a smart device. So for those types of games we'll continue to focus our attention on our own platforms.
Ultimately, it'll be a wise move for Nintendo to ensure that young gamers get excited about Mario on whatever device they happen to be playing; all the more players to get excited about Super Mario Galaxy 3 (we hope).
With thanks to Geoffrey for the tip.