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Mario Kart Tour has £4.99 monthly subscription option

Multiplayer due in future update.

Nintendo's free-to-play Mario Kart Tour has launched today for mobile phones - and there's a surprise £4.99 subscription option.

This option - priced the same as Apple Arcade, many have pointed out - lets you unlock gold cosmetic items and grants access to 200cc level races. It feels a particularly meagre offering for such a high recurring cost.

The subscription does not grant characters, karts or gliders, the things Mario Kart Tour keeps locked behind its gacha-style system. All of those microtransactions are still in the game, whether you purchase a subscription or not.

(A two-week free trial of the subscription is also available, though will begin automatically billing you £4.99 a month after the two weeks unless cancelled.)

We've known about Mario Kart Tour's main gacha mechanics for a while - the game was previously available in beta, with all of this stuff included.

Every so often you get the chance to shoot a reward out of Mario Kart Tour's prize-giving warp pipe by handing over a bunch of ruby gems. You can also buy these gems with real-world money.

One go on the gacha warp pipe costs five rubies, while 10 goes costs 45.

You can buy three rubies for £1.99, 10 for £5.99, 23 for £12.99, 48 for £25.99, 93 for £48.99 or 135 for £64.99.

There's also a limited-time launch pack with 45 rubies, five star tickets and the guaranteed unlock of Mario as a character for £19.99.

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As evidenced in the earlier beta, multiplayer as it exists at present is simply against the times of other players. Synchronous mutiplayer will follow in a future update.

You can, of course, choose not to pay for this stuff. You'll unlock characters and gliders slowly as you play through the game. And, again, the subscription service looks completely ignorable. But among its already messy mix of various in-game currencies and unlock systems, this launch day offering brings Mario Kart to mobile looking more like a slot machine than a Nintendo game.

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