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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Producer Didn’t Anticipate Historic Sales Success

Mario Kart 8 has enjoyed the longest history of any entry in the series, with support for the game continuing eight years after the initial release on Wii U (and five years after Switch) via the recently announced Booster Course Pass. Producer Kosuke Yabuki recently spoke with Japanese media Nikkei on the game, admitting that the team hadn’t anticipated the incredible sales of Deluxe for Switch. He thinks the breadth of its appeal was likely a big contributing factor, along with the fact that the Joy-Con makes every Switch a potential 2-player console.

We have prepared a translation of Yabuki’s full comments below.

Did you expect the game to be such a historic hit that it sold over 40 million copies?

We didn’t, but in hindsight Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a good match for the Switch. You can play the console anywhere and even split the controller in half, so it’s easy to pick up and play with a sibling or friend nearby. 5 years after the release of the game, this attraction has not faded.

What do you think makes the Mario Kart series popular?

Generally speaking, you don’t try to hinder your opponent in racing games, but in Mario Kart you spend races throwing shells at them and trying to slide them on banana peels. These unique tactics are at the heart of Mario Kart’s appeal.

It is both an accessible and deep game. There are people who only play the game on Christmas or New Year, while others work every day to improve their skills. We are always careful to balance the experience for both types of players.

How did you keep accessibility in mind when developing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

We wanted the game to be a fun experience for everyone. It can be frustrating to lose, but there’s a lot going on during races to make players smile or want to play another round. The hope for players to experience emotions beyond the race result. We designed the game in such a way that unthinkable things like sliding on a banana just before the finish line follow one another.

Since last November, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe overtook Mario Kart Wii as the franchise’s best-selling entry. Between the original Wii U and the Deluxe Edition on Switch, the title has collectively sold over 50 million units.

Translation provided by Jarop on behalf of Nintendo Everything.