Mercedes-Benz GLA coming to Japanese Mario Kart 8 in bizarre DLC

Nintendo has entered a strange partnership with Mercedes-Benz which means that a scaled-down version of Mercedes' GLA will be appearing in a future DLC for Mario Kart 8 in Japan. The very real car will join the wealth of other fictional but much-loved vehicles currently present in the game.

Although Nintendo has used product-placement techniques in games before, this is perhaps the most noticeable to date. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata did say in January that the company was going to aim to 'actively expand our character licensing business' as part of its wider program of change to its business model but this seems to be taking that statement rather to extremes.

The two companies have even produced a bizarre TV advertisement which features the car being used to play Super Mario Bros. and a real Mario driving the GLA; the video is set to the classic Mario theme tune. Mercedes has also built a special website with Super Mario Bros. graphics, similar to those used in the video.

The DLC will be available for free to Japanese players this summer, according to Japanese gaming site Famitsu. A Mercedes-themed Mario Kart 8 tournament will also take place this autumn, again, in Japan. Of course, players of old versions of Mario Kart on old consoles won't get the update and indeed Nintendo closed down multiplayer functionality in their games, including Mario Kart, for DS and Wii last month.

Eurogamer managed to ask a representative from Nintendo UK about the possibility of the DLC reaching other markets but Nintendo's only response was "we will be able to announce in the near future." That hints that we could see the Mercedes-Benz GLA in Mario Kart elsewhere in the world soon.

The question really though is do we want real, licensed car brands appearing in what is famed for being a very lighthearted, casual game? The GLA is designed as a stylish, urban SUV and doesn't seem to fit very well with the bouncy, colorful go-karts and bikes of the Mario world.

Source: Famitsu via Ars Technica | Image via Famitsu

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14 Comments

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Whereas this seems altogether appropriate in a game like Burnout or Forza, this just feels strange and goofy for Mario Kart (and not just because it's a convertible station wagon!).

Love this!

And does not bother me in slightest. Good to see Nintendo getting its face out there. Means they can piggy back other companies advertisement streams and create new ones for themselves.

Think this is a smart move considering. But ofc its so fashionable to climb aboard the "nintendo should quit/make only games/have sold out boat", now its just not funny any more.

Lord Method Man said,
If this was a DLC to some idiotic Xbox one game you'd be frantically pulling out your wallet to buy it instead of making stupid comments.

Nah he wouldn't... It's free! :rofl:

Lord Method Man said,
If this was a DLC to some idiotic Xbox one game you'd be frantically pulling out your wallet to buy it instead of making stupid comments.

If Nintendo made this partnership with makers of Forza or Need for Speed then it would make more sense. A game like Mario Kart, I'm sorry but that just seems really silly. If I was to be persuaded in buying a high-end car, I wouldn't expect to get my car recommendations from a children's race car game. This would be fun to play with my children nonetheless.

Lord Method Man said,
If this was a DLC to some idiotic Xbox one game you'd be frantically pulling out your wallet to buy it instead of making stupid comments.


The Xbox One that I don't even own?

DBrandUSA said,

I wouldn't expect to get my car recommendations from a children's race car game. This would be fun to play with my children nonetheless.

Believe me... this is not a child's game :|

DBrandUSA said,

If Nintendo made this partnership with makers of Forza or Need for Speed then it would make more sense. A game like Mario Kart, I'm sorry but that just seems really silly. If I was to be persuaded in buying a high-end car, I wouldn't expect to get my car recommendations from a children's race car game. This would be fun to play with my children nonetheless.

Kind of agree with you. Doesn't make sense to put it in a 'cartoon' racer and could be best suited as a DLC for the likes of need for speed... but you have to remember, this DLC is to grab your attention of the new merc.

If they had released this for Forza, or any of the other realism based racers, it would have simply been another DLC for the game. By releasing it for this game, it stands out and is so obscure in the game, it's made news headlines on sites like this, where you as an adult are reading it and now we're talking about it. Probably getting into the heads of the people who can afford to buy the merc, rather then the kids and young adults who're playing the likes of need for speed and forza etc.

The advertising DLC worked well. It's got peoples attention, better yet, people are talking about it.

sagum said,
it's made news headlines on sites like this.

This I agree with you. However, making headlines; especially on tech sites does not equate to sales. As a matter of fact, this has put me off as a consumer to even consider purchasing their vehicle simply of this ridiculous partnership.