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Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Run’ on iOS set to gross $71 million in first month, less than half of ‘Pokemon Go’

Nintendo's upcoming "Super Mario Run" mobile game on Apple's iOS is forecast to earn more than $71 million in worldwide gross revenue during its first month, less than half that achieved by "Pokemon Go" in the same time period, according to a new report.

"Super Mario Run" is set to be released on Apple's app store on December 15 and SensorTower, an analytics firm that tracks app data, said in research published Thursday that 20 million iOS users are ready to download the game on day one.

The game is initially free to download but Nintendo is charging $9.99 for the full version. Taking into account the "millions" who have pre-registered to get a push notification when the game goes live, SensorTower predicts that "Super Mario Run" will gross $71 million in its first 30 days. This is behind the $107 million seen for "Clash Royale" in its first month, and the $143 million seen for hit game "Pokemon Go" in the same period.


Shigeru Miyamoto, creative fellow at Nintendo and creator of Super Mario, speaks on stage during an Apple launch event on September 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
Shigeru Miyamoto, creative fellow at Nintendo and creator of Super Mario, speaks on stage during an Apple launch event on September 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

"Pokemon Go" is a game that lets users roam the real-world looking for fictional creatures to catch. The app is developed by Nianctic in partnership with Nintendo.

Still, analysts feel that Mario could be bigger than Pokemon.

"We have no doubt that first month downloads of 'Super Mario Run' will be historic—likely much greater than 'Pokemon Go' — thanks to months of prominent featuring by Apple, extensive media coverage, and more," Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at SensorTower, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.


Nintendo has to ‘nail it’

"Super Mario Run" marks Nintendo's first real mobile game as it looks to revive its business. The company had previously released an app called "Miitomo" which was more of a social networking service.

The Japanese gaming giant is taking a few risks with "Super Mario Run" – releasing it on Apple's devices which could potentially cannibalize its own handheld hardware sales as well as charging $9.99 for the full-game in an era where most mobile games are free.

But Nintendo has little choice but to embrace mobile, particularly as its console division has suffered of late.

"It's going to be crucial game for Nintendo … they absolutely have to nail it," Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese gaming consultant and advisory group Kantan Games, told CNBC by phone.

Toto added that the strong brand of Mario will allow Nintendo to successfully charge a fee for the game. "Nintendo is the only company in the world that can put a $10 fixed price mobile game out there," Toto added.

Investors are excited about Nintendo's pivot to mobile and also see it as a way for it to boost the brand as it looks to gain traction for the upcoming Switch – a hybrid handheld and traditional console – set to be released next year. Shares of Nintendo are up over 68 percent year-to-date, reflecting bullish investor sentiment.