Nintendo is making its move into mobile phones. So far, we have had two half-measures: the quixotic chat app Miitomo for one, and Pokémon GO for two. Pokémon GO, smash-hit though it was, is at best tangentially related to Nintendo, which owns only a portion of the license and had nothing to do with development save largely failing to manufacture the Pokémon GO Plus accessory. This time, however, things are different. Nintendo is bringing the big man to the little screen with Super Mario Run on iOS on December 15th. It appears that the media push is beginning now, in the form of a slick live-action trailer showing a whole bunch of people, you know, running. Watch below:
It represents a bit of a sea change in the way mobile games are released. TV spots, even live-action TV spots, are nothing new, but they're usually deployed to bring new players into already successful games, or to go on a recruiting drive for games that have had a month or so to fine tune after release. You rarely see launch day pomp for a mobile game: even Pokémon GO, which had a similarly elaborate live action trailer months before release, just sort of showed up on the store one day.
But Nintendo appears to be embarking on a genuine week-long media push for this new game, which only makes sense. Pokémon GO showed that there is a tremendous lot of money to be made with mobile games, and that they could operate as blockbusters in a way we had never quite seen before. Nintendo isn't leaving it up to chance this time, which is why we heard about this game months ago, why Apple has been advertising it on the app store ever since, and why it has an honest-to-God release date, which is again a rarity in the mobile gaming world.
I think it's going to be big. The pump is primed with both Pokémon GO and, to a lesser degree, the mini NES Classic Edition. $9.99 is a fortune for a mobile game, but i imagine people will pay it after the free demo: that's basically how most mobile games work anyway, and zeitgeist should be on this game's side to drive people to upgrade. And with Shigeru Miyamoto on board, I've got high hopes for quality.