Mario just got a hot new set of wheels.
Just in time for the Japan release of "Mario Kart 8," Nintendo is teaming up with Mercedes-Benz on downloadable content called the GLA Kart, which will be available in Japanese versions of the game this summer. The free download will let "Mario Kart 8" players choose the new Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV as a drivable vehicle.
In addition to the GLA Kart, Mercedes-Benz also released a GLA SUV commercial featuring a hunky Mario driving the car, first in an 8-bit game and then switching to live action.
The unlikely duo teamed up as a result of some perfect timing: Both "Mario Kart 8" and the Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV convertible launch in Japan on May 29. "Mario Kart 8" hits stores in the U.S. May 30. As for a U.S. release for the GLA Kart, Nintendo promises more details in the future, according to Eurogamer.
Product placement is nothing new for video games, and cars in particular have become a lucrative way for developers to fill their pockets with advertising revenue. In fact, putting cars in video games became a $2.8 billion industry in 2013. Automobile manufacturers like Cadillac and Chevrolet make drivable versions of their cars available in games like "Need for Speed" to encourage players to form an attachment to brands or models -- attachments that might stick when it comes time to pick an actual car from the lot.
But "Mario Kart," where players drop banana peels so that gorillas on motorcycles will slip and fall off-track, is not a realistic racing game. The GLA is the first real car to ever appear in a Mario Kart game, according to Kotaku. The GLA Kart probably doesn't signify a "Mario Kart" transition into a more realistic racer like "Forza" or "Need for Speed," but it does make for an interesting lineup of karts to choose from.