Nintendo was “not involved” with AI Mario spotted at CES 2024

An off-model Mario powered by artificial intelligence appeared at CES 2024 – but it was not a Nintendo product.
super mario bros ces 2024 ai mario

CES 2024 kicked off in Las Vegas on 9 January 2024, with the weeklong technology showcase still ongoing. While many of the products on the show floor have highlighted a bright future for tech, one particular booth has attracted plenty of attention this week, for all the wrong reasons.

As first spotted by Twitter / X user @ProbChild_ and later reported by IGN, a tech company known as Proto spent CES 2024 showcasing its AI hologram communications software by using a replica of Nintendo’s Mario. The AI version of Mario was seemingly displayed prominently at the Proto booth, with passersby able to interact with him, asking him questions and getting a variety of standard responses in a deep, Italian-accented robotic voice.

Per reporting from IGN, the AI Mario was used in an e-commerce demonstration, with Mario delivering instructions as to how to purchase a game from Target. Footage shared online revealed this answer being delivered with that robotic voice, and odd animations.

Read: Voice actors speak out against SAG-AFTRA deal with AI voiceover company

The “off-brand” look of Mario and his appearance at the Proto booth inspired IGN to dig deeper on the AI hologram’s origins, and as reporter Rebekah Valentine uncovered, it appears this Mario was not entirely legitimate.

In a statement delivered to IGN, Proto confirmed its Mario hologram was not officially endorsed by Nintendo, and was instead meant to be a non-commercial technology demonstration.

“The AI hologram animation briefly seen today is an unfinished proof of concept tested for a client to demonstrate technological capabilities and innovation,” a spokesperson said. “It is not intended for commercial release. AARP and Nintendo were not involved in the inadvertent showing today. The fact that so many gamers of the world have taken notice shows that they are the best fans in the world and we salute them.”

While Proto has praised fans of Nintendo for noticing and sharing the hologram, the positive sentiment delivered here masks a potential problem: Nintendo tends to be fiercely protective of its brand, and litigiously so. While it has yet to comment on the use of Mario in this manner, it’s very likely to be keeping a close eye on Proto and its future showings.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.