Mario Kart Tour is a hot-ticket item on mobile devices, but it’s far from free of controversy. The game is viewed as a money trap of sorts, with microtransactions scattered throughout. There’s even a monthly subscription service that players can sign up for in order to get more challenges and bonuses. So, perhaps you’ve read the title of this piece and decided that you’re unwilling to accept that anything good can be found in Tour for a core Mario Kart sequel. Still, I believe there are benefits to be found. Not in the microtransactions, but within the rotating challenges and constant updates.
Games as a platform are inherently more appealing in this day and age than a direct sequel, and we’ve seen that with recent releases even outside of Mario Kart Tour. Another Karting title known as Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled features this approach to content as well, with free monthly Grand Prix events that add new race tracks, characters and more. If Nintendo were to treat Mario Kart 9 as a platform (like it has done with Smash Bros Ultimate and Mario Tennis Aces), then the genre quickly becomes Nintendo’s oyster.
One of the few things that Mario Kart Tour does incredibly well is keep players coming back on a near-daily basis. Completing challenges to earn in-game currency, checking out the daily changes to the in-game shop, and jumping into newly added Cups makes for a much more engaging game. Every two weeks, Nintendo ends the current Cup and introduces a new one filled with brand-new characters, tracks, and more. It’s a never-ending smorgasbord of content and one that would lend itself incredibly well to Mario Kart 9–or even Mario Kart 8 Deluxe given that it’s currently the best-selling game on Switch.
Imagine logging in every day to a new slew of online challenges. Upon the completion of these challenges, you’d earn coins which you could then use to unlock characters in the rotating shop. Every month or so, Nintendo could add a few more race tracks, karts, and characters to the experience. Seasonal costumes and racers could be rotated in to the benefit of eager players who are willing to put in the time to unlock them.
It’s a system that could theoretically increase the value of the game itself, and it would continue to sell as a direct result of this setup. It’s this very concept that is currently being explored in Mario Kart Tour. While the microtransactions are so heavily implemented into that title as a result of it being free-to-play, the price tag of a full release would help carry free post-launch support much like it did for Mario Tennis Aces. Why is that? Because Nintendo stands to benefit from more people buying the game and then subscribing to Nintendo Online.
Mario Kart 9 could be just the juggernaut Nintendo needs to correct the initial sales slump of the Nintendo Switch Lite. Of course, the other major win is that we, the fans, come out ahead as well. The hope would be then that Nintendo wouldn’t incorporate optional microtransactions like Crash Team Racing has post-launch. Still, Mario Kart Tour has shown how me how appealing the model can be, and if it’s done with the intent to put consumers first then there’s no doubt that Nintendo would have an even bigger smash-hit version of Mario Kart on its hands.