With “Dr. Mario World,” a new mobile video game, Nintendo is trying to strike the right balance between closely guarding its video game characters and making its super-popular games available to as many people as possible.
The free-to-play puzzle made its debut Tuesday — a day before its scheduled July 10 launch date. It’s available to be downloaded on iOS and Android supported devices.
The game was initially teased in February, and a full trailer was released in June.
“Dr. Mario World” features Mario and his friends as doctors with special skills. Players can buy optional items for the game from within the app.
Within the game, players must treat viruses by matching capsules to form three of a kind. Each stage comes with a limited number of moves, in a formulation that’s reminiscent of the popular mobile game “Candy Crush Saga.” Things heat up in more advanced levels when players have to deal with obstacles and new maps.
Although the game is free to play, Nintendo has a real revenue opportunity with its new game: In-app purchases for “Dr. Mario World” range from $1.99 to $69.99.
Nintendo has been gradually getting more into mobile games, after initially preferring to release games directly on its own consoles. Its success has varied: Its biggest hits were “Pokemon Go,” “Super Mario Run” and “Fire Emblem Heroes.” “Super Mario Run” is loosely adapted from the console original.
Pokemon Go is a runaway success. The game, which debuted in 2016, earned more than $2 billion in revenue and has been downloaded over a billion times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said during a talk at the Game Developers Conference in March. Niantic collaborated with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company on the game.
But the popularity of “Super Mario Run” fizzled out. It made just $90,000 last month.
Its not only mobile games that Nintendo is focusing on: It is also making new mobile gaming devices. Earlier, Nintendo announced the Switch Lite, a smaller and cheaper version of its Switch gaming device.
The Switch Lite is designed to be exclusively portable. That means it can’t connect to the television like the Switch can. It has built-in, not removable, controllers. It will cost $199.99 and be released on September 20.
— CNN Business’ Shannon Liao contributed to this report.