Super Mario Run, a flawed but ultimately fun and faithful adaptation of the legendary franchise for iOS, is burning up the world of mobile gaming for a moment. Or at least, some portion of the world of mobile gaming, I should say. While iPhone and iPad users are happily collecting coins and rescuing princesses, Android users are out in the cold, leaving millions of people short of the big new game and Nintendo short of millions of dollars in revenue. And so we wonder: when will Super Mario Run come out on Android devices? For what it’s worth, here’s Nintendo’s statement on the matter:
“We do intend to release the game on Android devices at some point in the future.”
Not a lot of information here, but some familiarity with Nintendo can help to elucidate the situation. Apple exclusivity seems to be about two things: for one thing, Nintendo is a meticulous, careful company, so much so that until recently its only ever developed software for hardware that it has made itself. iOS is a big step away from that policy, but a contained one: the world of Apple devices is much more manageable than the unruly world of Android. iOS allows the developer to optimize for a still-limited number of devices. In addition, Nintendo is terrified of piracy, and always has been. That’s why it made the counter-productive decision towards an online-only requirement for this game, and that’s why it feels comfortable operating within the comfort of Apple’s walled garden.
Neither of these problems have easy solutions when it comes to Android, and if I had to make a guess, I’d say a release is a ways out. Nintendo is also not known for being a timely company. In the meantime, all sorts of imitators are popping up on Android: some just cheap clones, other out and out malware. With no legitimate version available, that’s bound to continue.
It’s a shame, because the launch of Super Mario Run was a big event, made less big by not launching on Android. The shine will have dulled some by the time of the initial Android release, inevitably weakening the potential profits. This is how Nintendo is going to enter the mobile market: little by little, with overwhelming caution.