Mario Kart Tour is Nintendo’s biggest mobile hit yet, despite controversy
(CNN) — Nintendo’s latest mobile app, “Mario Kart Tour,” was downloaded more than 90 million times in its first week.
That’s a new record for Nintendo mobile games. Its previous record-holder was “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp,” which had 14.3 million installs in its first week, according to data provided by analytics firm Sensor Tower.
But it’s not a complete surprise that “Mario Kart Tour” resonated with iOS and Android users. The game brings Nintendo’s popular racing series “Mario Kart” to smartphones, allowing fans to race against computer-controlled characters inside the app. (It plans to add a multiplayer mode in the future.)
On the app’s launch day, some users complained on social media of issues trying to play the app right away due to heavy traffic.
Although fans of the franchise were eager to download the game, they are less eager to spend money on it. It’s free to download but a monthly subscription of $4.99 unlocks the games most beloved mode, rewards, and other characters. That’s before the $19.99 fee to even be able to play as Mario.
For that same price, gamers can unlock access to hundreds of games in Nintendo’s back catalog with a subscription on their Nintendo Switch device.
“It’s off to a record-breaking start in terms of downloads, but revenue is a different story,” said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower.
The game has made $12 million so far, according to Sensor Tower, which Nelson said is “certainly impressive,” but he would have expected more from 90 million downloads. Nintendo is currently offering promotions and free trials within the game. Once those deals expire, it could see a sales boost.
The app may be Nintendo’s biggest mobile hit to date, but it may still trail behind the success of “Pokémon Go,” which is not a Nintendo property but uses characters commonly seen in its games. While “Pokémon Go” only saw 38.5 million installs in its first week, it had a gradual release and only appeared in three countries initially. It has since grown incredibly lucrative, bringing in $110 million last August alone, for a total of $2.95 billion globally since its release.