From Baillie Gifford

Super Mario’s World: how Nintendo has profited from new forms of gameplay

April 2023

Key points

  • Nintendo’s wealth of long-lived characters, including Mario, keep existing gamers engaged and help to attract new ones
  • The firm typically deploys its characters across a range of genres and within titles that pioneer new forms of play
  • Mario is also critical to the firm’s ambitions beyond its consoles, including theme parks and movies

Please remember that the value of an investment can fall and you may not get back the amount invested. This article originally featured in Baillie Gifford’s Spring 2023 issue of Trust magazine.

Mario, Nintendo’s signature video game character, debuted in 1981’s Donkey Kong. He’s since appeared in almost 300 titles, many of which introduced new forms of gameplay. But the intrepid plumber is far from being the Japanese firm’s only big-name franchise.

From Zelda to Animal Crossing, Metroid to Splatoon, Nintendo curates an enviable roster of intellectual properties. And that’s not to mention Pokémon – the blockbuster monster-catching series that it part-owns.

That rich heritage means Nintendo doesn’t start from a blank sheet of paper with each new console. Instead, it draws on storied heroes and villains that players are invested in and finds new ways to delight via technologies such as motion-sensing controllers, chip-embedded figurines and multitouch-detecting screens. Moreover, its avoidance of gore and in-game fees for virtual items means parents trust the brand with their children’s wellbeing, as well as gaming themselves.

Nintendo has a rich past but its focus is the future. Digital sales – including games and a subscription service for its Switch console – are roughly six times higher than they were four years ago and still growing. It’s set to expand Japan’s Super Nintendo World theme park and open attractions in the US and Singapore. And The Super Mario Bros. Movie may be just the start for its big screen ambitions.

So even if gaming’s future is in the cloud and physical consoles stop being made, Nintendo has what it takes to keep powering up investors’ returns.

Mario’s mega-franchise

Inventive games keep players coming back for more

1985 - Super Mario Bros
The first foray into the Mushroom Kingdom lets Mario change size by eating the fungi

1990 - Super Mario World
SNES console’s computing power is used to give Mario a rideable dinosaur, Yoshi

1996 - Super Mario 64
Mario’s first 3D adventure. Its non-linear levels mean players don’t need to follow a set path

1998 - Mario Party
First in a series of board gameinspired titles, which lets four people play together

2001 - Luigi’s Mansion
Mario’s brother’s torch-lit adventure takes advantage of the GameCube’s lighting effects

2007 - Super Mario Galaxy
A second player can aid Mario by using one of the Wii’s motion sensing controllers

2014 - Mario Kart 8
The racing series introduces anti-gravity, letting karts drive on walls and upside-down

2017 - Super Mario Odyssey
A shape-shifting hat lets Mario capture creatures and objects, giving him new abilities

2022 - Mario Strikers: Battle
League Football
The latest sports-themed spin-off. Golf and tennis featured in earlier releases

* Includes Mario-headlining games and spin-offs that he features in. Each title’s sales are assigned to its launch year. Figures sourced from
Data as at 5 December 2022. Data for some titles were unavailable.

Important information

Investments with exposure to overseas securities can be affected by changing stock market conditions and currency exchange rates.

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a particular investment. The article contains information and opinion on investments that does not constitute independent investment research, and is therefore not subject to the protections afforded to independent research.

Some of the views expressed are not necessarily those of Baillie Gifford. Investment markets and conditions can change rapidly, therefore the views expressed should not be taken as statements of fact nor should reliance be placed on them when making investment decisions.

Baillie Gifford & Co Limited is wholly owned by Baillie Gifford & Co. Both companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and are based at: Calton Square, 1 Greenside Row, Edinburgh EH1 3AN.

The investment trusts managed by Baillie Gifford & Co Limited are listed on the London Stock Exchange and are not authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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