Super Mario Run is set to debut next week; the first Mario game for iPhone. In the game, Mario runs forward automatically and players use one finger to make him jump up onto new platform, avoid obstacles and collect coins. Both Apple and Nintendo is hyping its launch with demos at retail stores and a round of press interviews.
However, one tidbit is putting a bit of a downer on the whole thing. It turns out that Super Mario Run will require a persistent internet connection to be playable, which significantly limits the appeal of a mobile game …
In an interview with Mashable, producer Shigeru Miyamoto explains that Super Mario Run will require a constant connection to a network for the game to be played, as the company is worried about software piracy.
The game is free to download but features a one-time $9.99 purchase to unlock all levels. iOS software piracy is possible on jailbroken devices with app stores dedicated to downloading cracked apps and games.
From Mashable, Miyamoto says there is no ability to play offline to protect against software piracy:
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.
We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the [Super Mario Run] modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.
Just to be clear: When you say “security,” you mean the risk of piracy, right?
According to the transcribed interview, Nintendo is worried about piracy risks as the game is launching in 150 countries on devices it does not control. He says that the network connection is used to update game saves and sync progress across devices via a Nintendo cloud account. They wanted to have the World Tour story mode available offline ‘at one point’ but this proved to be a technical challenge as the game state has to cooperate with the other two modes, Toad Rally and Kingdom.
It does not seem like this news will be received well. One of the primary advantages of iPhone games is that they are not tethered to a particular location and can be played anywhere. Requiring an internet connection means the game will be unavailable on plane journeys, underground trips and various other places users might conceivably want to play.
There’s a chance Nintendo could relax the restrictions in a future update. Miyamoto does not sound steadfast in his statements, indicating that the design is based off the ‘current development environment’. Nevertheless, offline play will not be available at launch and this will likely dampen the enthusiasm for an otherwise blockbuster iOS title.
Super Mario Run will be available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad next week, December 15. The title is free to download and try with a one-time $9.99 purchase to unlock all content and levels. You can sign up to be notified when the game launches.