Nintendo's made it clear that it hasn't been totally satisfied with its online efforts thus far, and the upcoming Wii U will hopefully resolve all that. Although the company hasn't revealed exactly how things will be different with its next home console, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has made one thing clear: Nintendo is not interested in free-to-play business models.
In an AllThingsD interview, Iwata was asked whether Nintendo had any interest in providing freemium software and generating revenue via virtual products and advertising, to which he replied:
We have no intention to provide a property to any other platforms, or making them available in a mode that does not require consumers to pay at all. Nintendo is a company, which is trying to maintain the overall value of video games. Of course, if Nintendo asks consumers to pay more money than the other platforms, then it’s Nintendo’s mission to provide the added value for which the people are willing to pay. In order to do that, we must remain unique and cannot be reproduced somewhere else. Something new, something fun and some surprise.
Iwata went further by saying that given the proportion of people who are willing to pay for microtransactions within a freemium model, it's simply not worth taking the risk in devaluing a product:
If we were simply going to say OK, the only the way we could sell more products is by decreasing the price, then there wouldn’t be a bright future and the entire industry will fold. When we look at the entire system of freemium, it’s not always that everyone is happy with the offers. Actually, there’s only a limited number of people who are willing to pay and many others are not paying for game titles at all. Nintendo is not interested... I’m not interested in offering software for free of charge. That’s because I myself am one of the game developers, who in the future wants to make efforts so the value of the software will be appreciated by the consumers.
Noting that other companies have found success by offering microtransactions as a way to generate income, Iwata seemed hesitant to entertain the idea that such a business model will last in the long term:
It’s not just the end result. We can’t simply compare the total revenue generated at the consequence of developing one thing. My point is about how we can keep the public’s perception of the software... Yes, it is true. There are great examples of advertising and doing the microtranscactions, and several companies who have come up with that kind of system. But on the other hand, if you ask me, is this the system that can be sustatined [sic] for the long time? I don’t know the answer. And, my point is that I’m not willing to go that direction, as well.