Every time Nintendo's latest earnings reports release, I have to check Mario Kart 8 Deluxe overall sales since it's been the best-selling Switch game for years. As of the latest data, it's sold a mind-boggling 37.08 million units. Now, Animal Crossing: New Horizons definitely tried to earn the top spot by becoming a 2020 phenomenon. Still, the chill island game sales have calmed down significantly and are currently at 33.89 million units sold while Mario Kart's continue relatively constant. This has made it impossible for other Switch games to even compete with Mario Kart's best-selling rank.
With how successful the game has been, it's time for some new content on Switch. But it won't be in the form of Mario Kart 9, so we should at least get some DLC for 8 Deluxe. After all, the Japanese gaming company has been updating older party games recently, so it wouldn't be that surprising.
Why isn't Mario Kart 9 on Nintendo Switch?
I'm confident that Nintendo is already working on Mario Kart 9, given that it's been so long since the last game came out. However, releasing another core Mario Kart game on Switch would just cannibalize the sales of the console's best-selling title. If there's one thing to learn in Nintendo business 101, it's not to mess with the cash cow while it's still milking plentifully. In my opinion, this means that we won't be seeing Mario Kart 9 until the next-gen Nintendo console releases. But that won't be anytime soon, since Nintendo has stated that due to the success of the Switch in 2020, the company plans to extend the Switch's lifecycle. So instead of releasing the next game in the series, Nintendo has experimented with the Mario Kart formula and given us different racing experiences over the last few years.
First off, we got Mario Kart Tour for iOS and Android in 2019, which brought gacha mechanics and simplified controls to the formula we've known for so long. Incidentally, it also has the best roster as you can get characters in different costumes. Then Nintendo partnered with Velan Studios to create a brand new racing experience with Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, released in 2020. This brought the digital racing game into our homes, allowing us to control real-life remote-controlled racecars with cameras attached to them using our Nintendo Switch consoles. In addition, augmented reality added obstacles and digital opponents that appeared on our Switch screens to make the experience more interesting. Unfortunately, while this was a novel experience, it was too costly for many people to get into, with the MSRP of each racecar starting at $100.
The existence of these offshoot Mario Karts proves to me that we aren't getting Mario Kart 9 on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has put so much effort into these side projects rather than producing another core Mario Kart racer, which lets the company bide its time and keep the franchise alive without releasing the next title. But as consumers, we crave more core Mario Kart content, and that's where paid DLC for new characters and locations similar to how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has its fighter pass DLC would make the most sense.
What we want to see in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC Pikachu, Samus, and more.
To get some more perspective, remember that Mario Kart 8 was originally released on the doomed Wii U in 2014 and then was ported to the Nintendo Switch with some enhancements once the hybrid console was released in 2017. The only big update the game has received since was adding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Link to the list of characters along with a special motorcycle and other Zelda-themed gear in 2018. That means it has been over two years since the last big update, but with how successful the game has been, it really could use another.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might have the biggest roster of any core Mario Kart game before it, but several notable Nintendo characters are missing from the lineup. This has lead people to create their own mods for the game like the one shown above. I'm not sure why Pokémon hasn't been included in recent Mario Kart games; it seems so elementary. Not to mention, it would be easy money if Nintendo allowed us to purchase DLC with characters like Pikachu, Lucario, or Snorlax in it. Can you imagine Jigglypuff's mischievous face whenever its Red Shell hits the competition? I'd buy that in an instant.
This DLC would open up a bunch of new locations to visit as well. For example, we could drive around the inside of the Galar Star Tournament stadium or simply drive around a route and see wild Pokémon crossing the road. I'd personally also love to see Princess Zelda, the rest of the Kong family, and Samus join the race. It would be fitting and maybe a bit depressing to have Captain Falcon join the group since the last F-Zero racing game was released in 2004 and it doesn't look like another is in sight.
Now for anyone thinking, this is Mario Kart, not Smash Kart, not Pokémon Kart. I'd argue that Mario is symbolic of Nintendo itself and opens up the possibilities for expanding outside of the Mushroom Kingdom to other Nintendo franchises. After all, this was already done by adding the Splatoon Inklings and Hyrule's Link. At any rate, given how successful this Wii port has proven to be, we really ought to have seen more DLC by now.
Life in the fast lane
Really, there's just so much potential to expand upon Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, given that it continues to sell incredibly well year over year. Unfortunately, I highly doubt we'll be seeing Mario Kart 9 until the next-gen Nintendo console releases. Mario Kart Tour and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit were interesting but didn't have the staying power to grab our attention long-term. In the meantime, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC with new characters from Pokémon, Metroid, and other popular Nintendo franchises would go a long way towards tiding us over. With any luck, maybe it will come our way soon.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.