Is it time for Nintendo to put Mario on the back burner?


The man,the myth,the legend. Many things can be said about Mario. He is the mascot that saved gaming, he is known worldwide, he is as popular as Mickey Mouse and so on. He has done it all in gaming from being a Carpenter,Plumber,Referee,Doctor,Sports player,Race car driver…heck he’s even in the Olympics now. Many look at Mario and say he is the end all, be all, in gaming….. especially when it comes to platforming. Many companies have tried to follow the formula, (Sega with Sonic, Ubisoft with Rayman, Namco with Pac Man, etc) but at the end of the day, its Mario who is always on top. There is a certain charm and mystique that Mario’s aura brings when it comes to gaming. Even when taking Mario and placing him in non platforming situations, the results are the same. Sure there may be many cart racing games…..but when compared to Mario Kart, Mario literally leaves them in the dust. How about a fighting game…Yeap, Smash Bros is a pretty big deal and I am sure Mario’s inclusion has helped that happen.

Recently, IGN sat down with a group of developers and asked them about Mario and its influence on them. One developers quotes that stuck out were (Mega-Man/Mighty No. 9) creator Keiji Inafune. Here is what he had to say:

“If any creator has not played Mario, then they’re probably not a good creator. That’s something I can say with 100 percent confidence. Mario is, for game creators, the development bible. There are so many hints about good design, about cute characters, about innovation in using an existing gameplay system. It’s something you have to constantly look at and examine and take hints from as a game creator. It’s the anchor that grounds almost all games.”

“I have total respect for Miyamoto, to the point where… It’s very strange that there are national cultural treasures – they’re traditionally sportsmen. I think it’s very strange that somebody as famous as Miyamoto hasn’t been designated one of those people. He’s talked about in all different countries. Lots of people know him. He’s pushed forward Japanese culture and interest in Japan all over the world. He’s somebody that deserves everyone’s ultimate respect, and a lot of that is due to being able to create Mario. And Super Mario Bros. 3, of course, within that, was a fantastic game.”

But is it time for Mario to take a back seat? Is it time for Nintendo to put Mario on the back burner and start pushing other characters or gasp….NEW IP’s? Many gamer’s are starting to see and feel that there is just way to much Mario coming from Nintendo’s camp and are starting to voice their displeasure with “another Mario game”. So if you were Nintendo what would you do? Well let’s first try to figure out why Nintendo keeps pumping out Mario to the gaming world. So business 101 tells us a company makes a product to sell in order to make a profit…so by this logic we should focus on sales of Mario and see if they truly warrant a continuous production of Mario. We will be taking the numbers from Wikipedia just as a reference (Donkey Kong and Lost Levels doesn’t seem to be accounted for,while others like Wario Land “Super Mario Land 3″ and “Super Mario World 2″ Yoshi’s Island are, even though they don’t star Mario)

Units sold
Game, Original platform, Total sales(millions), Launch year

Super Mario Bros, NES, 40.23, 1985
Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, 10, 1988
Super Mario Bros. 3, NES, 18, 1990
Super Mario Land, GB, 14, 1989
Super Mario World, SNES, 20, 1991
Super Mario Land 2, GB, 2.7, 1992
Super Mario All-Stars, SNES, 2.12, 1993
Wario Land: SML3, GB, 5.2, 1994
Super Mario World 2, SNES, 4, 1995
Super Mario 64, N64, 11, 1996
Super Mario Bros. DX, GBC, 3, 1999
Super Mario Advance, GBA, 3.74, 2001
Super Mario Advance 2, GBA, 4.08, 2001
Super Mario Sunshine, GC, 5.5, 2002
Super Mario Advance 3, GBA, 2.11, 2002
Super Mario Advance 4, GBA, 3.6, 2003
Famicom Mini: SMB, GBA, 1.37, 2004
Famicom Mini: SMB2, GBA, 0.37, 2004
Super Mario 64 DS, DS, 9.65, 2004
New Super Mario Bros, DS, 28.74, 2006
Super Mario Galaxy, Wii, 10.4, 2007
New Super Mario Bros, Wii, 25.47, 2009
Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii, 6.36, 2010
Super Mario 25th A.E., Wii, 2.24, 2010
Super Mario 3D Land, 3DS, 8.29, 2011
New Super Mario Bros 2, 3DS, 6.42, 2012
New Super Mario Bros U, Wii, U 2.15, 2012

Total sales of all games (millions) 268

By looking at the chart, every single Mario game (minus one remake on GBA) has sold at least a million units. This pretty much ensures that Nintendo is making huge amounts of profit off of each game that is produced. Nintendo knows that people will buy Mario as long as another one is made. But we can also see that the numbers fluctuate dramatically. The first of the NEW Super Mario Bros sold 28.74 million in the DS……while the last iteration on Wii-U has only sold 2.15 million. But when looking at the last 3D Mario titles, Super Mario Galaxy 2 sold 6.36 million on Wii….followed by Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS selling 8.29 million. While some may be decreasing, others are increasing.

So, now we see why Nintendo continues pushing Mario because he is guaranteed sales. There is no denying Mario’s place in gaming. He is an icon in the industry. But that still leaves us in limbo…do we put him on the shelf now? Does Nintendo risk losing money by giving Mario a break? Do we let him take a breather and start re-introducing characters like Fox McCloud from Starfox to the mix and let us do another round of barrel rolls? Is it time for Captain Falcon and crew to gear up again and race with us in the future races of F-Zero? Or is it time that Nintendo takes Miyamoto, locks him in a room and tells him not to come out until he has some new characters to introduce to the world? With so many questions and the upcoming release of Super Mario 3D World, your wallets may be your voice!

  • Stealth

    Yep real smart putting your biggest franchise on ice.

    Why dont you tell Sony to put GT on ice? or Halo?

    • cubs223425

      I don’t think Sony can put Microsoft’s Halo franchise on-ice.

  • cubs223425

    Nintendo would do well to develop new IP, but they couldn’t survive the lessening of the Mario brand. Look at this:

    In Japan’s top-100 games, I count 14 Mario games, plus Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Warioware, and Yoshi’s Story, all of which have direct ties to Mario. That means that 17% of the games on the list (maybe one or two more, if I missed them) are related to the Mario brand directly. If you look at the console breakdowns, Mario’s found in each of the GameCube’s top-3 slots. Mario is 2 of the top-3 on the Wii (the other being the included Wii Sports). Mario holds the #1 spot on the Wii U.

    So, sure, Mario doesn’t have to be all that Nintendo focuses on with home consoles (they seem to be churning out LOOOOADS of Pokemon for handhelds), but there’s not really any option to just let off the gas pedal with him until you actually have something there to replace the Italian Plumber.