You’ll be able to download and play the game for free on your smartphone, but expect to pay if you want all the content.
Nintendo decided to finally embrace smartphone gaming back in 2016 when it released Super Mario Run. That game was free to download and play, but unlocking all the content required a payment. Then, more recently, we got Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp which was also free, but generates revenue from players buying Leaf Tickets through microtransactions.
The next game Nintendo is set to release for smartphones is Mario Kart Tour, and it looks as though the free-to-play with microtransactions model is set to continue.
As Game Informer reports, Mario Kart Tour is being developed by Nintendo, but Japanese company DeNA is involved for handling the running of the game once it is live. DeNA specializes in mobile portals and e-commerce websites, so is a good partner for Nintendo on mobile platforms.
DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu confirmed in a press release that Mario Kart Tour will be “free to start,” which is Nintendo’s preferred way of stating this is a free-to-play game with microtransactions. No detail has been given about what microtransactions will be included, but it seems likely content will be locked behind pay walls. Course and Cup unlocks seem the most likely paid content offerings, but Nintendo could also extend them to characters and karts. Also, just like Super Mario Run, don’t expect to be able to play this game offline.
Mario Kart Tour has no confirmed release date yet, with Nintendo only stating it will be released before the end of March 2019. Regardless of how much content is locked away behind pay walls, it’s sure to be another guaranteed hit for Nintendo on smartphones and a good reminder to gamers that buying a Switch unlocks access to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and none of the microtransactions.