ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Super Mario Run will be releasing on the App Store next week, and many die-hard fans and Mario-loving children have been excited to get their hands on the game since it was first announced back in September. And after getting a closer look at the game and knowing that it will come with multiple modes, the title looked even more appealing.

However, if you've been looking forward to Mario's first appearance on mobile devices, you may want to reconsider for the time being. Revealed during an interview with Miyamoto, it turns out the game will not be playable offline.

Welp, that's a bummer.

Why Would Nintendo Make 'Super Mario Run' Online-Only?!

Mario is arguably the most iconic character in all of gaming — pretty much everyone anywhere knows who is. As a result, Miyamoto actually has what might be a fair answer for why Super Mario Run won't work offline:

“For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we're able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they're able to play it in a stable environment.

“This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.”

In other words, Nintendo has entrusted Apple to allow their code to run on iOS devices, and they don't want that code to be insecure or at risk of being stolen. It's actually pretty understandable, if a bit overprotective. Nintendo is brand new to the mobile world and if being lax with their security were to lead to stolen code, you can guarantee they wouldn't be making many mobile endeavors in the future.

Of Course, Nintendo Has Other Reasons, Too

While the privacy concerns are hard to fault, the other reasons given aren't as strong, if you ask me. In a follow-up with Polygon, Nintendo stated the following:

Online connectivity allows us to offer a variety of features and services that enhance the play experience. Super Mario Run is not a static experience, but rather one that players can continue to return to again and again to enjoy something new and unexpected. For example, online connectivity can offer the following:

Access to other users’ play data and scores for automatically generated Toad Rally challenges.

In-game events that will offer players new challenges and rewards for a limited time.

Linkage to Nintendo Account to access save data from multiple devices. For example, if players have Super Mario Run on their iPhone and iPad, they can share one save file across the different devices. However, this save data cannot be used with different devices at the same time.

Let's go down the line. Data for the Toad Rally challenges is probably not something that could work offline. Fair point, but should one mode really make the entire game require an online connection?

Limited-time events can easily be added in a one-time update, rather than dynamically available to the game. Pokemon GO, Angry Birds, and several other games have no problem adding special-event features in updates and then removing them later. This point, I feel could be worked around.

The last point about sharing data across devices is not a bad one, but why not simply have an alert pop up on the screen every time you go offline that no data syncing will occur even if you do return to a connection? Granted, I am not savvy to the inner workings of technology, but it seems like an offline mode could still serve the basic purpose of playing the "running" portion of this game if that's all players care about.

Should You Care About It Being Online-Only?

Here's the part that may or may not affect your choice to buy the game. Sure, it's online-only, but is that actually going to matter to you? Well, that kind of depends on a few different factors that only you will be able to answer:

  • What's your phone's data plan like? It's unclear just how much data the game will wind up using, but if you have a data plan with a small monthly limit, you may want to wait and see what initial usage looks like for others. After all, if there's something more unreasonable than cable prices, it's the cost of going .00000001 kb over on your monthly data. For the record, Apple Insider is reporting the game to use 75 MB per hour, and notes most cases this number will be lower.
  • Do you typically have good service in your area? This one should be obvious (and won't apply if you're strictly connected to wifi), but depending on your regular use of your carrier's internet services, it may not be something you notice all the time. If you don't typically have a good connection to internet, you won't be able to play.

  • Similarly, where will you be playing the game? Perhaps your service is fine. But what if you only plan to play this on commutes to work? One of the main concerns popping up is that this will basically make the game unplayable for anyone who uses the subway system — a.k.a., exactly the place you'll want to be able to play this.
  • Who will actually be playing the game? Don't lie, iOS games are a parent's perfect solution to a restless child. No one's judging you for caving and getting that iPad Mini you promised yourself you'd never buy for your own kid. But imagine this: Your tiny human is in love with Super Mario Run at home and then suddenly, the game stops working when you need to drive somewhere. This does not make tiny human happy, which probably doesn't make you too happy either.

If you have good service, don't typically travel places where service is likely to drop, and have the data plan to afford it, then Super Mario Run's online-only requirement probably won't be an issue. After all, also requires an internet connection and that hasn't really stopped it from becoming a huge hit.

Still, if the online requirement is something that you have any concerns over, maybe wait and see if Nintendo isn't willing to patch an offline mode into the game in the future.

Does the online-only requirement for Super Mario Run change whether or not you'll buy it?

[Source: Polygon]


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