If you have been playing Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo’s mobile version of their top-selling racing game series, you probably are familiar with the term “Gacha Pipe.” For everyone else who might be giggling already, it might need a little explaining. You see, when Nintendo made a brand new Mario Kart game for mobile devices — which they seem to consider a mainline Mario Kart title and could effectively be called Mario Kart 9 — they also saddled it with gacha mechanics. If you wanted the latest character or kart, you would feed the premium currency of Rubies to a golden pipe surrounded by fawning Toads that then has a chance of spitting out the character you want. Or it could just be a tire you don’t want.
These are called gacha mechanics because they’re like gashapon vending machines where you put money in and get whatever capsule toy pops out. Now stretch that idea out to game mechanics and realize how frustrated you would be if you wanted to get Diddy Kong but you instead got a glider that says “2021” on it.
But now, roughly three years after the game’s release, Nintendo has decided to throw the pipe into the trash and is ditching the gacha system in Mario Kart Tour according to a new message in the game itself. Instead, the game will simply have a shop for in-app purchases that still require Rubies as in-game currency, but at least you’re not gambling to get what you want. This storefront will debut next month on October 4.
It’s not clear why Nintendo chose now to ditch the gacha system on Mario Kart Tour and not, like, two years ago, but it might have something to do with it’s upcoming battle mode coming alongside the update that exorcises the demon pipe. It’s also possible that with some Mario Kart Tour tracks appearing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s new DLC, there’s maybe renewed interest in the game.
It has been said that Nintendo was overly-cautious about exploitative monetization in their mobile titles and that conservativeness could be one of the factors that lead Dragalia Lost to its eventual demise. Perhaps they eventually thought that it damages their strongest and most successful brand to leave it like this. Or maybe it’s as simple as they think interest in the game is winding down and this is the best way to keep it from bleeding out. Who knows, really.