Why Super Mario Run Being Always Online Isn't An Issue
Don't buy into the hype.
If you've been looking forward to Super Mario Run, you've probably already seen the fearmongering articles out in the wild that claim it's "majorly flawed" or has "one huge issue" with the way it operates. To save you a click, all of these articles are speaking on the fact that Super Mario Run requires you to be connected to the internet while playing.
It probably won't come as a surprise to gamers who primarily game on mobile devices that Super Mario Run requires internet connectivity, especially since a good portion of popular games on the App Store actually require this as well, or at the very least require you to sync up to the internet from time to time. Super Mario Run is now out in the wild and it's ready for you to download, however, so if you're going to pull the trigger it's time for you to go ahead and do it.
If you were on the fence given its online connectivity, here are a few reasons why you shouldn't be.
The data Super Mario Run requires is miniscule.
After downloading the game over Wi-Fi and playing it for the first two hours, I had only used 581 km having completed the first two worlds of the game. This is comprised of 8 different levels, which means six regular levels and two boss areas. I spent some time replaying the worlds as well.
Aside from downloading the game, which you could do via wireless internet, I played about three hours of regular levels and completed several areas. I also checked out the Toad Rally mode, which ended up raising my data usage to 1.2 MB, which is a pittance if you consider even a 1 or 2 GB data cap. If you're planning on playing the game for similar stretches of time, consider the fact that you already have a smartphone, which requires some sort of data access, and realize just how little of an issue this really is.
Data just isn't that expensive anymore, especially for the small amount Super Mario Run uses.
Various wireless carriers across the map, namely prepaid companies like AT&T's GoPhone, Straight Talk, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and others offer plans that average around $30/month with unlimited data up to the first 5 GB at full speed before being throttled. Some plans go up to $50 a month, but prepaid data plans aren't outrageously expensive.
If you're on a plan that's shared with others, mobile providers have made it increasingly easier over the last year or so to utilize data. T-Mobile has an unlimited data plan that you could run the game even with your data throttled. The fact of the matter is there's just not much data usage here to worry about, especially if you're a regular mobile game user.
Most games, in fact, are always online.
If you're a mobile gamer, you're probably already aware of this, but a good portion of games you enjoy on the go are actually "calling home" for DRM purposes much like Super Mario Run does. This isn't a new concept, especially when you consider the need for it with DRM. As Shigeru Miyamoto himself noted, the game has timed exclusivity for iPhone users, and the online portion is necessary for DRM requirements to make sure people aren't able to pirate the game. When there's content gated behind a $9.99 unlock fee, that starts to become a problem.
If you're still considering the idea that the game is somehow detrimental for requiring a small amount of data, take inventory of the apps currently installed on your phone -- chances are you have one or two that behave in the same way. At the very least, you can try Super Mario Run for free without taking the plunge. If it's long-term Mario play you're looking for, you also might want to look into grabbing a 3DS since that would be much better for long stretches.