Super Mario Run: Nintendo disappoints with ham-handed piracy protection

Super Mario Run will require an internet connection to play, and that has some gamers quite irritated with Nintendo. Has the company made a big mistake in its first Mario game for iOS?

super mario run lead

When news that Mario was coming to iOS was released at one of Apple's events, many gamers were overjoyed. Finally, after all these years, iOS gamers were going to get to play a Mario game on their iPhones and iPads.

Alas that initial burst of happiness and excitement has been clouded (and in some cases outright ruined) by news that Super Mario Run will require an Internet connection to play.

Adam Rosenberg reports for Mashable:

Series creator and Super Mario Run producer Shigeru Miyamoto sat down for a chat with Mashable ahead of the game's Dec. 15 release. The brief but informative chat covered a range of topics, including the game's always-online requirement, Nintendo's approach to formulating a mobile strategy, and Miyamoto's own ideas when it comes to designing for mobile.

I learned today that Super Mario Run requires an internet connection to play. What's the reason for that? Are there any thoughts about an offline mode?

For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we're able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they're able to play it in a stable environment.

We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the [Super Mario Run] modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.

But actually, the security element is one of the reasons that we decided to go with iPhone and iOS first. So this is just — based on the current development environment — a requirement that's been built into the game to support security and the fact that the three different modes are connecting to the network and interacting with one another.

We had thought at one point that it would be nice to have the World Tour [story] mode available standalone, to be able to play without that connection. But then the challenge is when that's operating in a standalone mode, it actually complicates the connection back to the Toad Rally and Kingdom modes. And because those two modes are relying on the network save, we had to integrate the World Tour mode as well.

Just to be clear: When you say "security," you mean the risk of piracy, right?

That's correct.

Unlike our dedicated game devices, the game is not releasing in a limited number of countries. We're launching in 150 countries and each of those countries has different network environments and things like that. So it was important for us to be able to have it secure for all users.

More at Mashable

I was already somewhat skeptical about the actual game-play mechanics of Super Mario Run since it’s not a traditional Mario game. You can only run to the right, unlike Mario games on the Nintendo 3DS and other systems. But the Internet connection requirement has made me even more skeptical about the game.

iOS is not known as a platform that is plagued by piracy (unlike Android) so Nintendo’s reasoning for requiring an always-on Internet connection is dubious at best. Very few people even seem to jailbreak their iOS devices these days, so piracy doesn't seem to be as big an issue for iOS developers the way it is for Android developers.

Frankly, I think that Nintendo’s Internet requirement is going to cost it some money as some gamers will refuse to pay the $9.99 for the full game. I’ve been looking at different sites and reading comments from folks who were excited about Super Mario Run but who now no longer care about the game.

Here’s a sampling of some of those comments from a recent thread in the MacRumors Forum:

Tann: “Well that's changed my mind on whether I'll buy it. Pretty much useless on my journeys.”

DBZmusicboy01: “NOT COOL. Games shouldn't be forced to be played like that.”

OliverFoggin: “Well, that's changed it from a definite buy and I was willing to spend the £9.99 to unlock the full game.

My train journeys to work and back are through areas with pretty much no signal.


I feel like I felt when SimCity 4 was released.”

Filmantopia: “This game is nearly useless to me if I can't play it on the subway.”

Budselectjr: “People never learn. EA disaster with the last Sim City that they originally claimed only could be played online "due to the cloud" but wasn't , the original plans for the Xbox One and the gamer backlash that got the whole division pretty much fired, etc.

Good luck, Nintendo. They already screwed up their next console launch by not having the new Zelda done in done in time and won't sell any at all now.”

Porco: “Oh dear. Silly silly Nintendo. Was all set to buy this day one. Now it's quite unlikely.

You want to cripple the game because you think I might be a pirate Nintendo? Well you keep your game then, and I'll keep my money. Everything stays more secure then, right?

Disappointing. Maybe Mario get me next time!”

Satchow: “Nintendo has always been stupidly scared of piracy and puts it above the needs of the consumer. For example, they used proprietary 1.5gb mini-discs that spun counterclockwise with the GameCube instead of DVDs like the PS2/Xbox. Ironically Nintendo has had consistently the easiest console to pirate for in each generation.”

Maflynn: “Sorry, but I hate games that require internet connections and I don't buy the issue about piracy. While that does occur to some extent in iOS, its not where as prevalent as other other platforms. Apple's walled garden largely prevents that sort of action.”

Kallt: “Regardless of piracy considerations, always-on will make such games a lot less valuable on the road. This is a clear disadvantage for paying customers.

As a rule of thumb, I disable mobile data for games whenever I can, otherwise I am inclined to delete them. One game, Temple Run 2, managed to suck quite a bit of data from the network while I was roaming, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

I will hold off buying it now, €9.99 is an unacceptable price for this kind of DRM.”

Themick4u: “Unplayable without service, IE: Airplanes? Subways? Wilderness? I think I'll take my money elsewhere.”

More at the MacRumors Forum

As you can tell from the comments in the thread, many people are not happy about Super Mario Run’s always-on Internet connection requirement. It looks like Nintendo has shot itself in the foot before the game is even released.

I have no doubt that the game will still do well, and will probably still top the iOS games charts. But it won’t sell as many copies as it could have if Nintendo had done things differently.

I wonder if the loss of sales due to the Internet connection requirement will end up costing the company much, much more than a small amount of piracy would have? Not to mention all of the goodwill of gamers that Nintendo has squandered already.

My advice regarding Super Mario Run is to temper your expectations now. If you want to play some real Mario games, get yourself a Nintendo 3DS and don't look back.

Here are some trailers for Mario games on the Nintendo 3DS that will give you a taste of the real Mario, rather than the watered down one in Super Mario Run:

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