Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass shows what a bargain Apple Arcade is

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Mario Kart Tour costs a fair wack. Certainly next to Apple Arcade.
Gold Pass costs the same as a subscription to Apple's 100+ gaming service.
Photo: Nintendo

Mario Kart Tour went live this week — and despite being, technically, free to download its in-app purchases make it pretty pricey. Certainly compared to Apple Arcade.

Eagle-eyed gamers quickly noted that Mario Kart‘s so-called Gold Pass subscription will set you back $4.99 per month. That’s the same price that Apple is charging for its entire 100+ game subscription service!

Mario Kart Tour’s Gold Pass gives you various gold challenges, gold badges, and a high speed 200cc mode. It doesn’t, however, unlock everything in the game. $5 a month to unlock everything would add up to $60 a year, which is about what you’d pay for the excellent Mario Kart 8 on Switch. That would still be 6x what Nintendo charged for Super Mario Run, which was unlocked via a single in-app purchase.

But that apparently isn’t what Nintendo is offering. As far as I can tell, you’ll still have to pay additional amounts for other unlockables. Right now, the so-called New York set (promising Mario, 45 rubies and 5x star tickets) will set you back $19.99. And more in-app purchases are sure to show up over time.

Buy a few of those and you’re looking at a Mario Kart experience that costs significantly more than any console version — despite playing like a shadow of it.

Mario Kart Tour: A great advert for Apple Arcade

Ultimately, the best thing Mario Kart Tour might do is to make us all appreciate how good value Apple Arcade is. Sure, I think the whole “exclusive” thing on Apple Arcade is a trifle suspect. (It turns out that “exclusive” means that it won’t be available on Android; not that it won’t be available on other consoles.) But it offers 100+ premium games for, in essence, what Nintendo is charging for 1x super-fast Mario Kart mode.

Despite what my colleague Killian Bell wrote yesterday they’re pretty special, too. Special in a way that we haven’t seen before in the App Store, courtesy of games like Monument Valley? Perhaps not. But a lot more special than a forced Nintendo game that doesn’t seem like it inspired too much passion on the part of its creators? Absolutely.

We’re all used to whistling through our teeth when we hear about how expensive Apple’s latest product is. But, just like Apple TV+’s shockingly reasonable price tag, let’s take Mario Kart Tour as a reminder of just what great value Apple Arcade actually is.

So maybe give that a go if you haven’t already checked it out. Or, hey, you could spend the same amount to go a little bit faster on Mario Kart Tour!