‘Mario Kart Tour’ app falls short of finish line

Imagine being able to use green shells and red mushrooms on rainbow roads from the palm of your hands – sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Well, when Nintendo released “Mario Kart Tour,” the first-ever mobile version of the popular racing game, on Sept. 25 for iOS and Android, that imagination became reality.

It didn’t take long for the much-anticipated game to break records. A week after the game was released, “Mario Kart Tour” was downloaded 90 million times (53.5 million by Android and 36.5 million by iOS), which is Nintendo’s biggest mobile launch in its history, according to Digital Trends.

Of course, “Mario Kart” isn’t new. In fact, there has been a Mario Kart game on every single Nintendo console since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the early 90s. “Super Mario Kart,” the first of the “Mario Kart” series, was released in 1992 and sold over 8.7 million copies worldwide, which ranks fourth in all-time sales for the SNES, according to The Gamer.

And over the years, “Mario Kart” games have continued to be some of Nintendo’s top-selling games. According to Business Insider, as of Dec. 31, 2018, the top-selling game for the Nintendo Switch, the company’s newest console, is “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” with over 15 million games sold.

“Mario Kart Tour,” the latest installment in the series, currently features 34 playable characters, 18 courses and daily rewards and challenges, so there are plenty of reasons for users to continue logging into the application each time they pick up their phone.

Paul Booth, a DePaul professor of media and cinema studies in the College of Communication, said that technology plays a prominent factor in something becoming popular.

“Having mobile technology and social media on your phone has allowed people to really see what is popular at the moment,” Booth said. “That is exactly what helps things spread and what helps things become viral.”

Another factor that influences trends such as “Mario Kart Tour” to become widely known has to do with the people that are in your social circle.

“The more your close social circle is talking about something or focusing on something the more likely you are to share it,” Booth said. “I think [trends] are also tempered by the social networks we are a part of.”

There is no question that “Mario Kart World Tour” has the numbers to back up its popularity, but there is one feature about the game that could result in plenty of users to play it less overtime or to delete the app altogether: a $4.99 monthly subscription.

Once the two-week free trial is over, first-time subscribers will automatically be charged for The Gold Pass. This pass will give subscribers access to gold gifts, special in-game badges and it will unlock 200cc, which is a more difficult setting.

“A monthly subscription seems stupid, especially since it’s $5 dollars a month,” junior Alex Rodriguez said. “The gameplay itself is good, but the pay to play factor is not.”

Rodriguez went on to say that the subscription would factor into whether or not he continues to play the game moving forward. He also said he would rather just pay one time and have access to all the features the game has to offer.

Recent DePaul graduate Luciana Mendez also isn’t a fan of having to pay to get a higher difficulty setting.

“I feel like it [‘Mario Kart Tour’] is too easy,” Mendez said. “It feels easier than the console version, and I don’t know if this is worth having to pay for it.”

Mendez also didn’t like that the game revolves around acquiring Rubies, which is how players can obtain new characters and items. There is only a certain amount of Rubies that can be earned per day, so that increases the incentive to have users purchase this in-game currency with their own money.

Another drawback is that the game currently has no multiplayer mode. “Mario Kart Tour” does allow the player to link their Facebook and Twitter accounts to search for friends, but there is no way to play with them. For a franchise that is known for its multiplayer component, Rodriguez said that it was an interesting decision to not have that be a part of the game.

“I feel like that is the heart of Mario Kart, just beating your friends,” Rodriguez said. “That was kind of a disappointment.”

“Mario Kart Tour” may have started off hot, but it seems to be at a crossroads with its fans. Last Wednesday, Oct 9, marked two weeks since the game was released, meaning subscribers who downloaded the free trial will automatically be charged for the month. Only time will tell if the game is still able to keep its popularity.