Super Mario Run can now be downloaded and played on the iPhone, iPad, and even the iPod touch as long as you're on iOS 8.0 and above. But Super Mario Run's Android version won't be out until 2017. So no Super Mario Run Android APK for the OnePlus 3, Lenovo Z2 Plus, or even the Google Pixel. According to Nintendo, this is due piracy concerns.
“For us, we view our software as being a very important asset,” Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said in an interview with Mashable. “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.”
“The security element is one of the reasons that we decided to go with iPhone and iOS first,” he said. When asked whether security means risk of piracy, he confirmed that this was indeed the case.
“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,” Miyamoto said.
Regardless of Miyamoto's intentions, it could be implied that Nintendo deems a Super Mario Run Android APK to be a gateway to piracy.
While Nintendo’s intentions might appear pragmatic — seeking to protect its own IP in the event of potential piracy, particularly when you remember how everyone seemed to have their hands on a Pokemon Go APK, it deflects from another fact about Super Mario Run.
Super Mario Run cannot be played offline. You need an Internet connection in order to experience the game and its three modes. Considering that Nintendo has opted for this approach, it lessens the risk of piracy greatly. And this won’t be the first company doing this. When Final Fantasy hitmaker Square Enix brought its games such as Chrono Trigger to mobile devices, you needed to be online to play it on Android.
Given that Square Enix’s games have held their price, which has a lot of times been a whole lot more expensive than the $10 or Rs. 620 that Nintendo is charging for Super Mario Run. What’s stopping Nintendo from taking this approach with the Super Mario Run Android version?
You could forgive Nintendo’s apprehension if the game was completely developed in-house, but given that DeNA — one of the more prolific smartphone game makers - is assisting in terms of tech, this move seems all the more questionable.
In the past DeNA has made big hits on mobile, such as Blood Brothers and Monster Match. These games required Internet connectivity and were released on Android as well. In the case of Blood Brothers, it released on Android first. That too, almost four months before the iOS version was out, so it’s not as if a ‘stable environment’ for Super Mario Run Android version, as Miyamoto put it, can’t be provided for.
So what is the real reason behind Nintendo making Super Mario Run an iOS-first release? Probably the same one that causes most other game makers to prefer Apple's platform. There’s a uniform set of guidelines and similar hardware across device, which makes development simpler. On Android, the Super Mario Run APK would need to be tested across a variety of smartphones and tablets, making the compatibility and overall experience a lot harder to ensure.
(Also see: Super Mario Run Won’t Work Without the Internet)
And with the Super Mario Run for iOS releasing during the holiday season, the company would also like to take advantage of the App Store traffic in some fashion. But you’d think a company like Nintendo would be prepared for such issues, what with Miitomo releasing on both platforms. Evidently not.
We can’t help but feel that the delay of Super Mario Run on Android makes things all the worse for Nintendo, and gamers everywhere. Don’t be surprised to see shoddy clones and malware masquerading as Super Mario Run Android APKs on Google Play, abusing the Mario brand in the run up to the eventual Super Mario Run Android launch. These don't do Google any favours, nor do they help Nintendo. Despite Google's most earnest attempts, these will be a problem. The best solution is a day and date release, rather than litigation that Nintendo seems to be extremely fond of.
Till then, hardcore Android gamers can take solace on another quote from Miyamoto:
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
We discuss Super Mario Run and what to expect when it hits a wider audience on Android. All this and more on Orbital: The Gadgets 360 Podcast.