Oh, People Are Playing Super Kirby Clash (A Lot Of People)

Some new data originally shared by Nintendo Hong Kong and then spotted and posted by user tonyh24613 to the ResetEra forums has revealed the total number of times Super Kirby Clash has been downloaded. It’s… a lot. The number, which was collected from Switch users worldwide, currently lists the total number of downloads at over four million.

Super Kirby Clash was released for the Nintendo Switch in September of 2019. Footage of the game was first shown in the middle of a Nintendo Direct, during which it was then announced that the game would be available that same day. It was a modern release strategy for a modern style of game— modern not so much in its gameplay, but in its monetization strategy. Super Kirby Clash is free to download, but encourages microtransactions to sustain enjoyment.

Real-life dollars can be converted into “gem apples” in-game, and are then used to buy items in a virtual shop. It’s a system familiar to anyone who’s spent more than a couple minutes playing virtually any mobile game. What makes Super Kirby Clash stand out among its competitors is that it’s not a mobile game, but a release on a major console. While console games have incorporated microtransactions plenty of times before, rarely have any followed the mobile “freemium” model so completely.

Gem apples can be earned without ever spending a dime, but as with the games that inspired it, not spending cash makes Super Kirby Clash a slow, tedious experience. Both the necessity of microtransactions and an overall lukewarm reception have prevented the game from seeming to become any sort of hit, so the staggeringly high number of downloads is at least somewhat surprising.

What’s counterbalances the disparity between its amount of downloads and critical reception is that people will always and forever like things that are free. After all, that four million includes everyone who downloaded the game immediately after hearing that it would cost then nothing, and then never opened it after the first time. Its console availability and being part of a AAA franchise also help it stand out, at least on the surface, from other similarly-modeled games. However, it’s not the number of times downloaded but its total revenue that could truly indicate whether or not the game’s a success, and whether or not Nintendo will continue to emulate this business model with its other marquee franchises.

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