Nintendo is getting ready to unleash its first Mario game on mobile, and it could end up as one of the biggest apps ever to hit iPhone.
Super Mario Run will have more than 50 million downloads in its first month, according to industry intelligence firm Sensor Tower. That is 56 percent more downloads than Pokémon Go’s 32 million through its first month. Super Mario Run debuts exclusively for iPhone on December 15 (it’ll hit Android at some point in 2017). It is Nintendo’s first time bringing one of its existing game franchises to mobile after experimenting with the release of the social app Miitomo in March. With Mario, however, the publisher is making its first major move toward taking a chunk of the $36.6 billion mobile gaming industry.
But while Sensor Tower is expecting big download numbers for Super Mario Run, that does not necessarily mean it’ll end up making more money than Pokémon Go. Nintendo is making the Mario mobile game free to download, but it requires a one-time $10 payment to unlock all of its content. And that’s a shift from free-to-play business model that most iOS and Android hits employ.
“Our Mobile Insights team forecasts that Super Mario Run stands to cap off a historic year for iOS game launches by earning more than $71 million in worldwide gross revenue — $50 million net — during its first month of availability in its launch countries,” Sensor Tower head of mobile insights Randy Nelson wrote in a blog post.
For comparison, Pokémon Go made $143 million in its first month and Clash Royale, a head-to-head strategy battler, made $107 million.
But that $71 million will come as a soothing salve for Nintendo, which burned itself with a Wii U console that sold fewer units than any other Nintendo system ever. As the company attempts to transition to its new home/portable Switch machine in March, it’s mobile games like Super Mario Run that may help it return to strong profitability in the intervening months.