If Nintendo wants Dr. Mario World—the first mobile puzzle game based on its most popular intellectual property—to succeed, it couldn't have made a better choice of developer than LINE Corporation. The company best known for its eponymous messaging app LINE certainly possesses the bona fides for the project, having built Disney Tsum Tsum, a free-to-play puzzle title based on the Mouse House's IP that just crossed $1.5 billion in lifetime player spending, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates.
Launched just over five years ago in January 2014, Disney Tsum Tsum—pronounced "soom soom"—has grossed at least $10 million worldwide on the App Store and Google Play each month since March of that year, reaching nearly $40 million per month at its peak in 2016. That's not to say that the game has seen its popularity wane much over time; it still grossed close to $26 million globally last month and a total of $308 million in 2018.
What's more impressive: This revenue has come almost entirely from Japan, where close to 96 percent of its player spending originates. While it is available in 81 regions, including the United States, the game's content and marketing are aimed squarely at the Japanese market, where LINE is also a household name.
Now with its hands on Nintendo's universally beloved Mario IP and a mandate to create a game for a worldwide audience, LINE will get the chance to replicate its success in the licensed puzzle game space internationally. In doing so, it will be able to bring to bear all the experience it has amassed around monetizing a title of this type—with Nintendo's global marketing knowledge to make up for its lack of experience growing loyal audiences outside of Japan.
Dr. Mario World will launch globally in early summer, ahead of Nintendo's other announced mobile release for 2019, Mario Kart Tour. That title was originally slated to launch before the end of March but has been granted additional development time to meet the publisher's notoriously high expectations of quality.