- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2016

Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times by iOS users within four days of being released last week, Apple and Nintendo executives said Wednesday, shattering mobile records in spite of receiving modest reviews.

The decades-old Super Mario franchise’s latest offering managed to claim the number one spot on the “Top Free” apps charts in 140 countries following its worldwide release Dec. 15, Apple’s Phil Schiller and Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto announced Wednesday.

An average of 10 million daily downloads in the immediate aftermath of the game being made available last week has officially made Super Mario Run the fastest-downloaded app in Apple’s history, easily surpassing the previous record set earlier this year when Pokemon Go garnered 25 million downloads over a nine-day span.

Nonetheless, Super Mario Run’s record-breaking days atop the Apple charts occurred in the midst of the game being widely panned by critics who have taken aim particular at the app’s pay-to-play functionality as well as its reliance on the internet.

While the latest Mario game is free to download and try, playing past the first few levels requires users to pay $9.99. Even then, however, the game requires an active internet connection in order to be played, prompting complaints from customers who wish to enjoy the game without connecting to Wi-Fi or diving into their monthly mobile-data allowance. As a result the game currently has a meager 2.5-star rating on Apple’s iTunes app store.

“I’m happy to see a new Mario in the hands of so many people around the world. It might take time for everyone to fully understand what you get when you pay, but I know more and more people are deciding to buy it. Moving forward, I want an even wider range of people to experience the wonder of Mario games you can play one-handed and that can be given safely to children.” Mr. Miyamoto, creator of the Super Mario Bros. series, said in Wednesday’s statement.

In spite of the app’s record-breaking week, Nintendo shares have declined more than 14 percent in the week following Mario’s release, CNN reported Thursday. DeNA, a company that partnered with Nintendo to make the game, saw its own shares decline by more than 18 percent during that same span, the Telegraph reported.

Data reviewed by App Annie, a mobile analytics firm, indicates only a fraction of the 40 million-plus iOS users who downloaded Super Mario Run followed through with purchasing the full game. The game raked in roughly $14 million in its first three days in the app store, meaning only around four out of every 100 users bothered to pay the $10 unlocking fee, according to the company, while a similar firm, Sensor Tower, said the number of Mario users who paid the fee was closer to 5 percent, CNN reported.

Regardless of the lackluster reviews, “Run” is already poised to become the most popular Mario game in the franchise’s history, at least with respect to the number of official copies in circulation, analog or digital. The series’ original game, Super Mario Bros., sold more than 40.24 million copies since being released in 1985. The cartridge was often shipped along with the Nintendo Entertainment System, however, meaning customers who purchased the NES platform often received a complimentary copy of the original Mario as their first video game.

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