How to Buy Super Mario Run for the Whole Family
If you are part of a super geeky gaming family you have probably already heard about the newly released iOS game called Super Mario Run. This is the first major Nintendo game to come to the app store in a "console-like" game. The unique aspect of this game compared to other Mario games is that it was designed specifically to be able to be played with a single hand (in portrait mode on your iPhone). This makes it a great game to play when in line at the store or while killing a few minutes in a waiting room.
But just like other major Nintendo games, Super Mario Run is not cheap. The initial app download is free, but if you want to play more than the first 3 stages you must buy the full game via in-app-purchase (which is $9.99 in the United States). From what I have played of the game so far I would say the game is well worth the $9.99. But if you have an entire family that wants the game it will set you back a bit more. The reason why is that in-app-purchases are not shared between family members utilizing Apple's Family Sharing. This means that each member of your family that wants the full Super Mario Run game is going to have to pay the $9.99.
Why did Nintendo do it this way? In my opinion, they didn't do it as a money grab. They wanted to get Super Mario Run in as many people's hands as possible and the best way to do that is by offering a free game. That way people get a taste of what to expect from the full game and are more likely to pay the $9.99 and unlock the full game. If there was no way to download a free version of the game then quite a few less people would risk buying a comparatively expensive game like Super Mario Run without having played it first. Now, Nintendo could have offered 2 different version of the game...a "lite" version for free and a separate "non-lite" version that was the full $9.99 asking price. This would have allowed family members to share the Super Mario Run game with the entire family and only have to purchase it once. To be fair though, most major developers have pretty much abandoned the whole "lite" version of apps and have instead just offered upgrades to the full game via in-app-purchase. After all, if you develop a "lite" version of the app it does take extra development resources.
So what if you want to avoid having to buy multiple in-app-purchases to appease your gaming hungry family? All is not lost. I have two options for you...
Share the Old-Fashioned Way
The easiest way around this issue is to just buy the full game via in-app-purchase on a single device and then share that device with everyone in the family that wants to play the game. Each person in the family can have their own Nintendo account and log in and out of that single device. This is not an ideal solution, but honestly how long will everyone in the family be playing this game. You will probably beat it in a few weeks (or days or even hours depending on just how much time you spend gaming) and then you will be done with the game.
The Complicated Work-Around
There is another way to get around having to buy Super Mario Run multiple times and that is to log out of the iCloud account of each member of your family's device and login with your Apple ID. Assuming you have already made the in-app-purchase of the full game with your Apple ID you can then restore your purchase on their device and then logout of your iCloud account and back into their's. Its a rather complicated workaround and you must follow the step exactly otherwise you risk making multiple purchases anyway. I am not detailing the step here because I really don't recommend doing this. For one thing, this option is a hack. Since Apple doesn't allow in-app-purchases to be shared within family sharing this method is circumventing Apple's intentions. This means that at any time Apple may patch this hole and do an additional check on the current logged in Apple ID each time you fire up the app and this workaround will stop working. Also, this method is complicated and involves logging in and out of Apple ID/iCloud accounts and any time you do this you take a slight risk at data loss. But it does work. So if you have the patience to follow a long set of steps and don't mind taking a bit of risk...be my guest. Just do a search on "Super Mario Run family share" and you will find several articles detailing the process.
In summary, I would still recommend buying the in-app-purchase and then sharing the device your made the purchase on with other members of your family. You might also want to wait until Dec 23-27 when iTunes Connect goes down for the holidays and many app developers will choose to put their apps on sale. Its possible Nintendo will reduce the price of the in-app-purchase over the holidays as a way to spur more sales. But that's a big maybe. With an app that was just newly released they may not need a lower price to drive more sales. But just in case you might wait until Dec 23rd...it might save you a few bucks.