Mobile

Super Mario Run only got 5 percent of players to cough up their coins

Super Mario Run jumped high with number of downloads, but fell short in number of people who actually paid.

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Super Mario Run, Nintendo's first mobile game, was supposed to be a smashing success. But although it's hit 78 million since its December 15 release on the iPhone last year, only 5 percent of players paid the $10, £8 0r AU$15 to unlock the full game, Bloomberg reported. (Get Nintendo's full earnings report here.)

The 5 percent figure is about half as many paying users as Nintendo had estimated. Nintendo made 6 billion yen (that's about $53, £42 or AU$70 million) from Super Mario Run, but that number could have doubled if it hit its target. Last summer's hit, Pokemon Go -- which Nintendo didn't make, but gets a small slice of -- generated over $143 million and was downloaded 32 million times in its first month on the iOS App Store.

A version of Super Mario Run for Android will be out in March, which could help boost numbers.

mariorun.gif

A metaphor for Nintendo collecting all of our money.

CNET

Two different payment approaches might explain why Pokemon Go did better. While Super Mario Run charged upfront to unlock every level after the first five, Pokemon Go offered several in-app purchases that cost less, but could be bought multiple times.

That higher initial price tag may have been what drove people away from paying. App analysts have noted that it's hard to convince mobile gamers to pay "large" sums of money upfront ($10 versus $2 or $3), even if it's a fraction of what console games cost.

But that doesn't mean the world's favorite mustachioed plumber has failed his mission. Pokemon Go's real victory was in invigorating interest in the Pokemon franchise and leading to record sales of the games Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon (14.69 million units), Nintendo said in its earnings report. Super Mario Run could similarly boost sales of the Nintendo Switch (coming out March 3) and Super Mario Odyssey (slated for a holiday 2017 release) even if it doesn't generate millions on its own.

Nintendo's just getting started with mobile. It plans to release Fire Emblem Heroes February 2 (don't forget, there's a Fire Emblem game coming to the Switch), while the Animal Crossing mobile game has been pushed back as far as next fiscal year.

Now Playing: Watch this: Fire Emblem: Heroes trailer
1:22

Life, Disrupted: In Europe, millions of refugees are still searching for a safe place to settle. Tech should be part of the solution. But is it? CNET investigates.

Does the Mac still matter? Apple execs tell why the MacBook Pro was over four years in the making, and why we should care.