Nintendo's Miyamoto says smartphones won't ever be Mario's primary platform

Mobile devices lack the 'control intuitiveness' that's key to the gaming experience, he said.


On the eve of the launch of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the pudgy plumber's days on smartphones may be dwindling. In an interview with Variety, celebrated Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto said that "mobile apps will not be the primary path of future Mario games." Instead, he said, the company's strategy going forward is a "hardware and software integrated gaming experience."

Miyamoto's remarks aren't too surprising, considering that the last Mario game on mobile, Dr. Mario World, was pulled from the market just two years after its release. 2016's Super Mario Run grossed $60 million in its first year, while Mario Kart Tour has taken in $300 million so far. That compares with Nintendo's $3 billion gross to date on Mario Kart 8 for Wii U and Switch.

The designer said that since control intuitiveness is a key part of the gaming experience, smartphone development is problematic. "When we explored the opportunity of making Mario games for the mobile phone — which is a more common, generic device — it was challenging to determine what that game should be," he said. "That is why I played the role of director for Super Mario Run, to be able to translate that Nintendo hardware experience into the smart devices."

Miyamoto didn't address other mobile Nintendo mobile properties, including Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes. The latter is Nintendo's top earning mobile game by far, having crossed the $1 billion mark in June of last year, according to SensorTower. Miyamoto declined to say when the next Super Mario game would arrive, but The Super Mario Bros movie starring Chris Pratt is set to arrive today amid strong audience and tepid critic reviews.