Mario Kart Tour is out now, and you’re not going to like what’s just been added to it

By Joe Robinson 25 Sep 2019 1

Despite being a well loved gaming brand and creators of both hardware and videogames of undeniable quality, Nintendo’s history on mobile has been… spotty, at best. I guess there's a silver lining in the sense that, up until a few years ago, it was virtually non-existent.

Their work at licensing the Pokemon franchise is arguably the thing they’ve had most success with, as I think we can all agree Pokemon GO is a very creative use of both the license and of integrating real-life with the game reality. But then you come to things like Super Mario Run and Dr. Mario - great licenses that should be on mobile, but Nintendo’s decisions in how they’ve monetised these games definitely took the wind out of many people’s sails.

Mario Kart Tour released today on iOS and Android, and while we’ve known it was going to be free-to-play for a while, I imagine a lot of people were hoping it wouldn’t be too heavy handed. With the game only just out the gate that will remain to be seen - new racers and accessories at least will be a gacha-pull system a lot like Pokemon Masters, but it depends how easy it is to get the free currency to afford them. It costs 5 Rubies per ‘pull’, and you get 20 once you complete your first Cup. Drops of 5 Rubies are also available as log-on bonuses. The only other way I've encountered so far of getting them so far is paying for them, which costs this much:

mario kart tour rubies

Something else Nintendo have announced today though is a subscription based ‘Gold Pass’. For $4.99/£4.99 a month you can get “Gold Gifts” by racing in tours. Here is the example image they’ve used:

mario kart tour gold pass gifts

You also get special in-game gold coloured badges to collect, but more significantly, you can unlock the 200cc races. The game features 50cc, 100cc and 150cc, all of which we’re assuming can be accessed for free by putting in enough play time. If you want to access the highest racing tier however, looks like you’ll have to pay - and pay monthly at that.

The gacha stuff is understandable - Nintendo have to monetise this game somehow, but this subscription thing is both unexpected and a little disappointing. One thing that’s not always been clear before now though is what Nintendo mean when they’ve described the game as ‘Free-to-Start’. It’s not something I’ve dwelt upon until now, but this new subscription offering probably highlights where they want to go - you can start playing for free, but eventually to keep progressing you’ll have to pay money; one way or another.

I’m playing around with Mario Kart Tour as we speak, and we’ll have some more in-depth content like what we’ve done with Pokemon Masters as soon as we’ve dug a little deeper. So far I’m level 2 and have already unlocked 100cc races, so it’ll be interesting to see how soon you hit that ceiling that only the subscription can open.

What are your impressions of Mario Kart Tour so far? Let us know in the comments.

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