The mobile game will be free to play, so of course Nintendo needs to make money from “Mario Kart Tour” somehow. Still, some fans are concerned about the amount of microtransactions the game will have upon its full release. Though screenshots and the like are not meant to be shared during the closed beta, some users have taken to Twitter (most of it can be found by searching the game name in Japanese: #マリオカートツアー) and forums to share screenshots and thoughts on the game.
A beta is not a full picture, and it says on the website for the game that “in-game purchases are not available during the beta test,” so even those currently playing can’t have a full grasp of how invasive the microtransactions will be for the game.
Games industry consultant Dr. Serkan Toto shared his thoughts on the beta on Twitter, noting that it seems that “‘Mario Kart Tour’ beta is pretty hardcore with regards to monetization.”
Looks like Mario Kart Tour beta is pretty hardcore with regards to monetization.
Multi-level gacha for drivers, karts and gliders.
Rare drivers have advantages during races.
Stamina system limits races available on an hourly basis.
(Subject to change, this is a beta.)
— Dr. Serkan Toto / Kantan Games Inc. (@serkantoto) May 22, 2019
He pointed out that there are “multi-level gacha for drivers, karts and gliders,” meaning players need to spend virtual currency to unlock these in-game elements. The thing about virtual currency is that it can usually be earned in-game, but it can also usually be unlocked by spending real-world dollars.
The other option was for Nintendo to release the game for a one-time cost rather than free to play with microtransactions, but that seems to be happening less and less as it limits the potential for publishers to make more and more revenue from a single game. “Fortnite,” “Brawl Stars,” and other top mobile games follow the free to play model to great success.
As for the game itself, beyond monetization, from initial impressions of screenshots and the like being shared around it looks like classic “Mario Kart” in portrait mode, with gameplay a bit more simplified. The racer reportedly just drives automatically, and players have to steer by pulling to the left or right.
The expected characters are present: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Toad, Yoshi, and others. Some characters, like Luigi, are classified as “rare,” and behind a virtual paywall.