Super Mario’s World: how Nintendo has profited from new forms of gameplay
- 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.
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
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 vgsales.fandom.com.
Data as at 5 December 2022. Data for some titles were unavailable.
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