Mario Kart Tour, the mobile Mario Kart title announced by Nintendo in a brief press release, will be free to start, according to DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu.
Nothing is really known about the title aside from the tour and now the information that the game will have no upfront cost to download, but Moriyasu did confirm that Nintendo is developing the game with DeNA handing infrastructure and servers. While Nintendo’s mobile monetization policies have differed greatly, the only other title that Nintendo has called “Free to Start” was Mario Run. In December, Nintendo confirmed Mario Run had not generated an acceptable profit.
Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has said that they prefer to make their more mainstream mobile games single-cost titles rather than Fire Emblem Heroes’ gacha mechanics which encourages frequent purchases.
Nintendo has been clear that, while they do need to profit on mobile titles, they also see them as advertisements for console games. In that sense, Free to Start is likely better for their end goals of selling more copies of Mario Kart 8 or the inevitable Mario Kart 9.