Your opponents in Mario Kart Tour feature names like ‘Feitan+sab,’ ‘Joana’ and ‘Faustine,’ but they aren’t real human racers.
Instead, every racer in the game is an AI-controlled bot. It took me until level eight to finally come to this revelation after leaving a race, checking Twitter, going back to Mario Kart Tour and realizing the race was still in the exact same position. As it stands, there’s no multiplayer mode in Mario Kart Tour, though Nintendo says it plans to bring the feature to the game in the future.
The closest thing to a multiplayer mode in the game currently is the ability to compare your high score for each track with people you’ve added to your friends list.
What’s particularly strange about Mario Kart Tour‘s bots is it feels like Nintendo has made an intentional effort to disguise the fact you’re playing against AI opponents. Beyond just their names, some AI racers also have a special badge beside their handle that’s visible when the game is starting. This badge indicates they’re ‘Gold Pass’ subscribers, which costs a ridiculous $6.49 per month. Mario Kart Tour even displays a matchmaking-like ‘Looking for opponent’ message before each race starts.
To put the Gold Pass cost in perspective, Apple Arcade, which will eventually give subscribers access to over 100 games, only costs $5.99 per month.
It’s almost like Nintendo and DeNA tried to get online play against other racers to work, but couldn’t get the feature up and running in time for launch. The fact that Mario Kart Tour was delayed multiple times also indicates there might be some truth to this theory.
This is yet another blow to the poorly-received mobile take on the iconic Mario Kart franchise.
Despite the criticism, Mario Kart Tour looks set to be one of Nintendo’s most financially successful mobile releases yet. Mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower says the game amassed 20 million downloads in 24 hours and $1 million USD (about $1.3 million CAD) in spending.
This number also doesn’t include revenue from the Gold Pass subscription since it offers a two-week trial. Apptopia, another app analytics firm, indicated that Mario Kart Tour racked up 10 million downloads in its first 24 hours, leading to some discrepancy regarding many downloads the new mobile title actually received on its first day.
It’s likely Nintendo will reveal official Mario Kart Tour download numbers and earnings soon, especially if the game has been a hit.