Nintendo & DLC: Downloadable Commercials
Flash forward seventeen years. Tomorrow, I’ll be cruising down Toad’s Turnpike in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster. Weird, huh? Yet this isn’t the first time Nintendo has opted for DLC – or downloadable commercials, as I like to call them. Just a few months back, Mario Golf: World Tour included unlockable Callaway gear: clubs, hats, balls, shorts, you name it. This new trend of introducing real-life brands into an otherwise original Mario universe raises numerous questions about marketing strategies interfering with creative designs.
So that's where all those coins are going!
On one hand, I see nothing wrong with adding a few real-life objects into a Mario game. I actually thought the team-up with Callaway was brilliant at the time because it allowed for specific tournaments with competitive rewards. Furthermore, in Mario Golf, Mario is playing a real-world sport that is defined by the brand names associated with it. In other words, we cannot consider golf without thinking about Titleist or Callaway – they’re inexorably linked – in the same way that soccer is strongly associated with Adidas and Puma equipment.
But when we start thinking about these real-life objects as real-life products, the result is a little less exciting. I dread a future where Mario’s gear is sold to the highest bidder. Imagine, if you will, Mario’s F.L.U.D.D. being replaced by a Craftsman Power Washer. Imagine the Poltergust 3000 as a Hoover Windtunnel. Imagine Peach’s parasol as a Burberry checkered folding umbrella. I know what you’re thinking – that these examples would never happen – but for me, a Mercedes-Benz in a Mario Kart title is the equivalent of a Craftsman F.L.U.D.D.
We hope the next DLC introduces a PT Cruiser to represent middle class families.
Mario Kart is a kart racing game; it isn’t a realistic car simulator like Forza Motorsport or Grand Turismo. The Mercedes-Benz team-up ends up distracting from the creative kart designs that drew me into the series in the first place. I want every object in Mario’s universe to be a product of innovative art design, not a result of a corporate advertising arrangement.
I’m not saying that the upcoming DLC is a bad thing. I’ll totally take that 1934 Silver Arrow out for a spin, and I know that Mario Kart 8 will still be just as fun tomorrow as it is today. But, at the same time, I’m wary of a future where brand names and commercial advertisements fill an otherwise carefree and timeless Mushroom Kingdom.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo's DLC strategy? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to find out about Nintendo's newly announced DLC right here.