Nintendo has Killed Mario Run with its Online-Only Feature

The death sentence of any mobile game: online-only play

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We've had mixed feelings about Mario Run at Popdust Gaming. It's the first Nintendo mobile game for iOS; that's a plus. But it's also a $10 iPhone game with one button controls. Mixed feelings. There's the hope that a Nintendo product, especially one of its first-party royal line, would always be of at least a minimum quality. Then there's the fear that this game will be plagued by all the things that are problems for gamers and pluses for publishers like microtransactions, ads, and of course, the dreaded online requirement.

The first of those problems is unlikely to be a problem considering the hefty price tag will most likely include all of the launch features and Nintendo, historically, has been quicker to provide player-created levels for free rather than charging for their own map-packs. Ads won't be a problem for the same reason. But the online requirement has been a death sentence for so many games, mobile and console alike.

For console games the argument is more sturdy; you might need to integrate seamless online play like a Watch Dogs 2 situation (although that's a nightmare in its own right). But for mobile games, it's all about convenience. That's why features like the sleep mode on the 2/3DS have been so clutch. You've got a few minutes on the subway platform or while you're taking a lunch break so you do a couple battles in Pokémon Sun or you play a round of Doodle Jump. But think about excellent mobile concepts like or which were popular for a long while in the summer, when kids were at home with Wifi all day, but lost steam heavily when the year picked back up.

This is damning for two big reasons:1) much of the time we spend available to play mobile games is in transit and that means a poor or unavailable Internet connection and 2) even when we have the Internet connection available, that extra ten seconds it takes for online games to get going makes opening up the game not worth our limited time. All of this is best case scenario, too. Most games, mobile or console, with constant online connection are very laggy because of that connection.

I'm a big believer in the power of Nintendo to make apparently horrible-seeming decisions turn out great. They've done it before and they'll no doubt do it again, but mobile games are uncharted territory for them and unfortunately well-mapped for oft-scorned gamers. Don't mess this up, Reggie.

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