When it comes to the video game industry's most beloved franchises, few rank as highly as Mario Kart. With its simple to learn, but difficult to master gameplay, the series has spawned a number of imitators, but none that have proven nearly as endearing. It should come as little surprise then, that the franchise's mobile debut, Mario Kart Tour, took home the top spot as Apple's Most-Downloaded Free iOS game of 2019! The game beat out other notable Top 10 contenders, including Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite. The news was announced on Saturday during Apple's annual event celebrating the best and best-selling apps of the year. The festivities are held in New York City, and a major part of the event is something akin to The Game Awards, with Apple announcing their games of the year across Apple platforms.
Interestingly enough, Mario Kart Tour was the only Nintendo published title to crack the Top 20 on the chart, leaving popular games like Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Mario Kart Tour's proverbial dust. The absence of both those games can likely be attributed to their age, but Dr. Mario World was released just a few months prior to Mario Kart Tour, and also missed the list.
Nintendo was notably hesitant regarding the idea of releasing mobile games. While investors pushed for the move (particularly during the darker days of Wii U), Nintendo worried that releasing games on phones would reduce the incentive for people to purchase their consoles. At the moment, this is less of a concern for the company considering how well Switch is performing, but it has led to some of the company's mobile efforts deviating from their console brethren in ways both small and large. Part of this naturally boils down to the lack of buttons on mobile devices, but another part seems to be an intentional effort to make the games act more as a teaser for the publisher's larger console options.
Despite that hesitation, Nintendo's mobile efforts have proven to be a fairly big success. Mario Kart Tour has been the biggest mobile release ever for Nintendo, and Fire Emblem Heroes has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the company since its release in February 2017. With these successes under their belt, it's likely we'll see more mobile announcements from Nintendo sooner, rather than later.