Super Mario Run did well, but how does it compare to high end game launches?

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

It's being reported that Super Mario Run was downloaded almost 10 million times in its first day. That's a mighty number indeed, and speaks well to Nintendo's powerful position in smartphone gaming if they want to claim it.

Big debuts are important, as anyone who has released something will tell you. In many cases, a significant portion of your widget's total sales will happen in that first couple of days. There are of course exceptions to this, but a big launch is usually required to achieve long term sustainability.

Here's a few recent top video games on PS4 and Xbox One that have had impressive opening days for comparison:

Fallout 4 (PS4/XBO/PC) was released in November 2015 and sold 12 million copies in the first 24 hours, generating $750 million in revenue.

Final Fantasy XV just came out in November 2016 and moved 5 million units in it's first 24 hours.

Slightly less impressive, Nintendo's own Pokemon Sun & Moon games sold 3.7 million units in their first 2 weeks of November 2016.

Uncharted 4 was released in May 2016 and sold 2.7 million in its first week.

Going back to November 2013, we have Grand Theft Auto V selling 11.21 million in its first day.

These these numbers are all impressive, when when you think about them from a pure revenue perspective, it's even more so. Super Mario Run was downloaded 10 million times in it's first day. That's not how many people bought the $9.99 in-app purchase to unlock the full game, it's just how many downloaded the app itself. App Annie suggests it brought in $4 million for those downloads. If that's not counting Nintendo's cut, that 400,000 conversions (or 4%). If we're counting Nintendo's cut, then that's about 570,000 conversions, or 5.7%.

Compare that to the Fallout 4 numbers listed above and the scale of thee businesses comes into focus. Not only did Fallout get more copies into customers' hands, but that game was $59.99 and every single person included in that 12 million number paid that amount. Their $750 million in 1 day is truly insane and as far as my Googling can tell, is the biggest first day for any entertainment product in history.

I do think that Super Mario Run will have longer legs than many other games mentioned in this piece. While its opening was huge in terms of downloads, if not purchases, I suspect it had a very strong first weekend on the App Store and will continue to do well for quite a while. It's getting prominent placement in the App Store and is handily the top grossing app every day since launch. They'll surely get a boost next week when kids and kids at heart alike get iTunes gift cards for Christmas and decide they want in on this Mario action.

Keep an eye on Nintendo's statements about how Super Mario Run is doing going into 2017. I wonder if Nintendo will find the App Store a suitable home for more of their franchises or if this game hardly moves the needle for them. I suspect it will, even though this launch is kind of small beans compared to the blockbusters in the traditional gaming space.