Mario and Apple: The future of mobile gaming?


ProxyFox | Sept 8, 2016

Since the early days of flip phones and T9 texting there have been games built in to many consumer cell phones. As our phones get more powerful, and the screens get larger, gaming is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the mobile marketplace. At Apple’s special event yesterday Shigeru Miyamoto announced the partnership of Nintendo with tech giant Apple to produce a new, Nintendo created moblie game: Mario Run.

Mario Run looks like a classic Mario game, but a major part of your controls have been automated: forward momentum. Mario runs all by himself as you progress through levels, only seeming to control when and how high Mario jumps, and this could be seen as both good and bad in the gamer community.

There’s  a certain stigma that goes along with being a mobile gamer. People assume that you don’t have the cognitive skills to handle a “real” video game, or that you’re just mindlessly sucked in to breaking candy pieces, begging your friends to help you play, or throwing your savings away one dollar at a time to “pay to win.” While some of these assumptions may be true for some people, that’s not the case for everyone.

Many developers make the “pay to win” style games, knowing that they need to hook people into the game before they can get them to want to pay money for extra gear, more lives, etc. In a struggling economy, it’s no wonder that people are APPrehensive to spend money on mobile games without being able to play them first, however Nintendo seems to be looking to change the way we think about mobile gaming.

Sure, Nintendo has ported some games over to the mobile market (most notably titles from Square Enix, such as Final Fantasy), but it has also developed some pretty interesting software for mobile as well. Miitomo for example, is a sort of social-network-meets-tomagotchi style app where you create yourself as a Mii and connect with your friends’ Mii characters, answering silly, and sometimes thought-provoking questions. The app is free to download and free to play, hosting mini-games where players can play to win clothing items for their Mii to sport when they visit friends. Money for new clothing is earned by answering questions and interacting with others, really promoting social interaction.

So what does all of this have to do with Mario Run? Mario Run may be the closest that an actual AAA game developer has come to bringing the true spirit of gaming to the mobile market. With worlds, levels, challenges, and social interaction, backed by the Nintendo name, we may see the beginning of a bridge between mobile and console gaming. People that got into gaming through things like Candy Crush, but perhaps look upon console gaming as FPS-dominated and a scary place may pick up Mario Run and get introduced to a new love for platform gaming. Alternatively, someone that’s never been into mobile gaming for its “pay to win” style of play, may get into Mario Run for Nintendo’s “pay once, that’s it” mentality.

Mario Run isn’t the first of its kind overall, but it is the first to be backed by one of the three major players in the gaming world. If there’s one thing Nintendo is good at, it’s creating a challenging experience in platform gaming (look at all of the platform games that were on the NES that are still hailed as some of the best games around), and removing the players complete control over the movement of Mario simply presents new ways for the developers to invent puzzles and challenge players.

For certain, it will be interesting to see where mobile gaming goes from here, as technology continues to expand and new partnerships form. Perhaps Nintendo will also cross into the Android marketplace, or perhaps one of the other gaming giants will partner to compete. Nintendo and Apple certainly seem to share a similar outlook when it comes to sleek and simple design, so perhaps that’s where they will stay, but who knows? The games of tomorrow are still being written.