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Mario Kart Tour is more gacha-based freemium shenanigans

I’ve been watching Nintendo’s mobile experiments with growing trepidation.

I loved that Super Mario Run was basically a fully-featured demo and a single budget-priced purchase for all the rest of the content. I was happy to pay for that game. I hated that the market punished Nintendo for using this strategy, and worried what Nintendo would do for its future games.

I hated that Fire Emblem Heroes was ostensibly free but monetized via a double-RNG gacha system. I hated that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp started very chill but increasingly stuffed itself with calls to action toward the (often gacha-based) monetization, resulting in a “stressful mess”. These were both games I enjoyed a lot for a while but which turned me off due to the aggressive and exploitative monetization increasingly baked into their design. If they’d been designed as single purchases like Super Mario Run, I am confident I would have loved them. As is, I am confident they are both worse than when I left them and have no desire to return. (I did not even bother with Dragalia Lost.)

But these games weren’t Mario. Nintendo described Fire Emblem Heroes as an “outlier”, said they preferred the monetization of Super Mario Run, and that they were more interested in winning new fans than maximizing short-term profits (and apparently actually pushed CyberAgent Inc. to tone down the whale exploitation in Dragalia Lost.) So I was holding out some hope that the upcoming Mario Kart Tour would not let gacha-based monetization ruin an otherwise good game.

Hope status: dashed. The beta apparently has a gacha system for collecting drivers, karts, and gliders of varying rarities with varying bonuses on different courses. And for some reason there’s a stamina system, like there was in Fire Emblem Heroes.

So, I’m no longer holding out hope for great mobile Nintendo games. We’ve lost them to the gacha freemium hellscape that is modern mobile gaming. I’ll probably try Mario Kart Tour, because why not, but I expect to put it down about as quickly and as sadly as I put down Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

I’m still optimistic for Apple’s game subscription service, though.