Mario died on March 31, 2021. At least that’s what large parts of the internet say, thanks to a meme that has taken hold of Nintendo’s sales practices. Depending on how closely you have followed the Mario 35th anniversary, you may be confused as to why someone is talking about Nintendo killing one of the most iconic characters. Here’s what’s going on.
Why does Mario die?
The short answer is: he is not. Mario is not going anywhere, and Nintendo has already announced Mario games that will be released in the coming months such as Mario Golf: Super Rush. Obviously Nintendo would not get rid of one of the most popular and recognizable characters, so we̵
The longer answer is that while Mario probably won’t get anywhere, there are definitely some of his games. And it was really here that this snowballing joke began to gain momentum.
Nintendo’s limited schedule
In 2020, Nintendo celebrated Mario’s 35th anniversary. To mark the occasion, it offered a series of exclusive merch as a special edition Game & Watch, in-game events in popular games such as Super Smash Bros.Ultimate and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and two new game releases: Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a collection for the Nintendo Switch that includes three of Maria’s groundbreaking games: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. Super Mario Bros. 35 is meanwhile a riff on the classic 8-bit Super Mario Bros., making it a multiplayer royale where players try to survive each other in a series of Mario stages. It is offered as a bonus for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, similar to the Tetris 99.
But unlike the Tetris 99, the Super Mario Bros. came out. 35 with an expiration date. So did Mario 3D All-Stars, Game & Watch and even other parts of the anniversary Mario merch. Nintendo announced that all of these would be picked up from stores on March 31. And the company seems engaged, and even indicates that it intends to retrieve physical copies of Super Mario 3D All-Stars from the shelves and eShop. There is no word on what the company will do with the remaining retail copies that are not sold.
Retailers reportedly still have a lot left, and they are unlikely to pull them off the shelves regardless of Nintendo’s time-limited plan. But when these copies run out, they will not return, and Nintendo has picked up the games from its digital store. While owners of Super Mario 3D All-Stars can still play their copies, Super Mario 35 is not playable now that the server support is closed.
Why is Nintendo doing this?
Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser says the move is meant to make Mario’s anniversary feel special and unique. This is not a strategy the company will often adopt, he says, but the limited time element contributes to Mario’s anniversary feeling like an event.
“Super Mario 3D All-Stars has sold over 2.6 million in the United States alone,” Bowser added. “And so clearly consumers have been able to jump in and enjoy it. And it’s not a strategy we’re going to use much, but it’s one we thought was very unique for the anniversary itself.”
Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. We hope you continue to start and enjoy the adventures of Mario and friends! # SuperMario35 pic.twitter.com/gwZDUaXiSF
– Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) March 31, 2021
There has been speculation and criticism among some fans that the offer in a limited time is to push for artificial scarcity. There are no indications that it is a deliberate move on Nintendo’s part, but meant or not, it seems to work. GamesIndustry.biz reports that sales of Mario 3D All-Stars have increased in the last week on the market, according to UK sales charts. Some fans are obviously worried that they would not get another chance.
Fans have also speculated that Nintendo may bring these games back, in a new context removed from Mario’s 35th birthday. This may mean that we offer the 3D All-Stars games individually on the eShop, for example to make the collection package itself for the anniversary exclusive.
Whatever happens next, the internet called the date as Mario’s public execution. This has been designated as the day Mario dies, partly to poke fun at Nintendo for the hard move of killing games that customers may wish. And while he really does not get anywhere, the memes continue.
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