After arriving with a bang, Mario Kart Tour appears to have hit the skids.
The mobile game based on Nintendo’s hit racing series will stop getting new content from October 4. While the game will continue to remain active, it won’t receive new courses, drivers, karts or gliders following its current Battle Tour.
Players learned of the phaseout through a message shared by the title’s developer, Japanese firm DeNA.
Mario Kart Tour was one of the leading lights in Nintendo’s troubled mobile gaming push. The free-to-play game allows players to control characters like Mario, Bowser, Luigi and Peach as they race karts through world locations such as London, New York and Paris.
At first, it seemed like Nintendo had a monstrous hit on its hands. Eager players overwhelmed Mario Kart Tour’s servers upon its launch in 2019, stopping some people from accessing the game.
But its initial success was quickly overshadowed by controversy surrounding Nintendo’s monetisation of the game. Like the company’s other mobile efforts, Mario Kart Tour used a controversial gaming tactic known as loot boxes, whereby players could pay to unlock random characters and vehicles.
[Mario Kart Tour]
Nintendo has announced that content updates will end after the Battle Tour (starting Oct 4).
All tours after the Battle Tour will consist of previously added content. pic.twitter.com/0Igg8H915k
— OatmealDome (@OatmealDome) September 11, 2023
As a result, Nintendo opted not to release the game in Brussels, where loot boxes are banned. Mario Kart Tour’s freemium model was also roundly bashed by reviewers, who branded it a cynical cash grab that zapped the fun out of the popular racing franchise.
Nintendo would later remove loot boxes almost three years after the game’s launch, replacing them with an in-game shop.
The lack of new content could be the death knell for the mobile game, whose popularity has plummeted. Mario Kart Tour is at number 229 on the list of highest grossing mobile games, according to mobile data analysis firm Sensor Tower. The ranking is dominated by the likes of Roblox, Coin Master and Candy Crush Saga.
If it were to shut down, it wouldn’t be the first Nintendo mobile game to suffer that fate.
The Japanese gaming giant has already axed titles such as Dragalia Lost, Miitomo and Dr. Mario World. Nintendo ostensibly scaled down its mobile gaming ambitions in 2020 to focus on its smash hit Switch console.
Speaking of which, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch could also be hurtling toward the finish line. The mainline game’s Booster Course Pass, which offers subscribers and paying players new courses in instalments, is due to conclude at the end of the year. As part of the launch, Nintendo has been adding courses from Mario Kart Tour to the console game.
With rumours of a Switch successor doing the rounds, perhaps Nintendo will finally give players a new Mario Kart console game to go with the new hardware. It has been nine years since the title was released on the Wii U, so a new entry is surely on the horizon.