Iwata: Nintendo Open To "Free-To-Play" Gaming Model
Posted by Damien McFerran
But only if it suits the game in question
We've already reported on the Nikkei interview with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata regarding the success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, but the news that it had shifted 500,000 downloads wasn't the only interesting info he had to share.
Iwata was also keen to talk about the impact of Free-to-Play gaming on the games industry, and explain the company's stance on this rapidly expanding business model:
We [as an industry] can now do distribution by digital means as well as micro-transactions, and the ways to obtain money through supporting entertainment have increased. It's a change in our landscape; competing in game-quality, and working on how money is obtained, I think both are things that require creativity. Therefore, I have no intention of denying charged [DLC? subscription?] games, or the free-to-play model. If we were to talk about if Nintendo were to do that, however, I do not much inclination to do that with Nintendo's established well-known products, where people trust their interesting-ness.
For example, for people who are used to Mario games costing 4,800 or 5,800 yen, we will not have a proverbial door to full enjoyment that can only be unlocked via payment. However, this is separate from say, having something where because there are people who want more stages to play on in Mario games, we will create new courses for those people and charge for them. We have already begun this process with some of our titles. For new titles with no established base, if, in the process of development, we found it to suit the free-to-play model, we might follow that route, or we might do something like 'Cheap-to-play'. Our sales methods have been freed up and I have no desire to extinguish that freedom. If we were to release something like that, it is not a betrayal but the birth of an interesting idea through our new found freedom, that's all. I am not talking about changing how we sell Mario or Pokemon.
It would seem that Nintendo is very much keeping its options open; while it's clear that free-to-play isn't a good fit for a series like Super Mario Bros., the company is still happy to explore the concept of DLC content with downloadable map packs. And it's quite possible that Nintendo could come up with a fresh free-to-play concept which is entirely new and unlike anything the industry has seen previously.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think free-to-play gaming is an avenue Nintendo should actively explore, or do you prefer to pay a large amount up-front and get all of the content in one go? Sound off in the comments section to let us know.