Nintendo announced that its first smartphone game, Super Mario Run, has been downloaded more than 40 million times since its December 15 debut.
The app is a mix between the venerable Super Mario Bros. and the endless runners that have become so popular on mobile platforms. Mario automatically runs through the game's levels--players merely have to let him know when to jump over obstacles, into coins, and around enemies. Nintendo designed this simplified control scheme to make Super Mario Run easy to play on devices that don't have physical buttons for more complex gameplay.
That's how Super Mario Run breaks away from other titles in the franchise. It also eschews a staple of mobile gaming--microtransactions that let people unlock new content or bypass artificial barriers to progress--in favor of asking people to pay $10 for access to the full game. (You can download a short demo at no cost.) Nintendo didn't abandon its business model just because many consumers expect to be able to play mobile games for free.
Many people aren't happy about the company's decision. Reviews of Super Mario Run on the App Store often praise the game for its design while slamming Nintendo for wanting them to pay for access to the full version. Consumers have been conditioned to expect more bang for their buck--which often means entire games for no money, at least in the App Store--and they aren't happy about Nintendo breaking from the mold with Super Mario Run.
It would be interesting to know how many of Super Mario Run's 40 million downloads led to sales of the full game. The title is currently at the top of the App Store's lists of the most-downloaded and highest-grossing applications, so it must be doing fairly well, though it's also worth pointing out that Apple has been pushing Super Mario Run since it was revealed at the iPhone 7 keynote in September. Both companies put their full weight behind the game.
Super Mario Run is available from the App Store now. Nintendo has not announced a release date for Android smartphones.