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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.

[via m.neogaf.com, nikkei.com]

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User Comments (28)

Beta

#1

Beta said:

I will welcome free-to-play games with a huge warm hug! XD

pashaveliki

#3

pashaveliki said:

please god no... not the ftp nightmare. I love iOS but i have a 3DS in addition to an iPhone in part because the ftp plague is destroying iOS gaming...

Birthday_Boy

#4

Birthday_Boy said:

Well hopefully they are. Considering all the other companies are comfortable with it. I played Happy Wars (Xbox 360's 1st F2P) on Xbox live, and that is very entertaining. If Nintendo are going to do F2Ps however, I would prefer they do it similar to Ubisoft's games.

AgentAPE

#5

AgentAPE said:

leave the FTP games on PCs, I've had a hard enough time tolerating the dlc mess this past console generation made, nickle and diming people to death for small stuff that should already be in the game.

Burning_Spear

#7

Burning_Spear said:

In five years no one will remember what free-to-play was. it's a fad of the smartphone explosion.

MercifulLemon7

#8

MercifulLemon7 said:

I hope that Nintendo never does freeplay I think that should just stay on PC, unless they know how to do it right somehow but I perfer they not.

Magnalon

#9

Magnalon said:

I have no idea why you guys are so afraid. If there's anyone I trust to do free-to-play right, it's Nintendo. They won't sacrifice quality.

If Halfbrick can do it with Jetpack Joyride, and RocketCat can do it with Punch Quest, Nintendo can handle it.

MrWalkieTalkie

#11

MrWalkieTalkie said:

I don't know how I feel about free-to-play. But I completely trust Nintendo, and I'm sure they would do it right.

XCWarrior

#13

XCWarrior said:

Free to Pay games are some of the most boring, tedious games out there for the most part. I've tried 3 or 4 on Steam... I don't have more than 5 hours invested into any of them. Do mission 1... do it again... do it a third time. OK, do the second mission now 3 times. Want to move along faster? Pay real money for this weapon that doesn't stink.

No thanks Nintendo. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

Taceus

#15

Taceus said:

Never played a F2P game but after seeing Nintendo's take on social networking via 'Miiverse' I'm very intrigued in how Nintendo would do F2P.

CanisWolfred

#16

CanisWolfred said:

Never been fond of F2P games, but I'd be interested to see what Nintendo lets on the console that uses it.

MAB

#17

MAB said:

I think Nintendo has enough games they really should be working on instead. You know the actual quality apps that everyone seems to pay good money for ;)

Unless they get other devs to make these games then that might be ok I guess... But I bet there will be a big gap between F2P releases. Just hurry up and concentrate on giving us our damn VC and leave the freebie play to the PC/smartphones.

Collinhall

#19

Collinhall said:

ftp IS a very valid model, and I bet Nintendo would implement it very well such as games like TF2 have.

DerpSandwich

#20

DerpSandwich said:

F2P is all about how you handle it. If getting all of the content costs about as much as a normal game, then you're doing it right and the game is functioning sort of like a glorified demo, which is awesome. If getting all the content and "being the best" at the game (especially in the case of a multiplayer game) costs hundreds of dollars as is the case with many games (even simple little flash games) then you don't even deserve to be in the games industry.

And if anyone's going to do it right, it's Nintendo. They've got integrity, which isn't something you can say about a lot of other devs and publishers.

eviLaTtenDant

#21

eviLaTtenDant said:

Anything that gives them more freedom to explore more original or unusual gameplay ideas and characters is good in my book. In the Nintendo context i don't see more in free-to-play games than them being a proving ground. The aim should always be to make typical Ninty games out of these imo. Could be a different story with episodic games though.

gavn64

#22

gavn64 said:

iwatas comments as of late are eerily like his comments all through 2004-2005 in relation to the "revolution" which became the wii i think he is eyeing the next big move in the industry watch this space.

pashaveliki

#23

pashaveliki said:

@aviator ftp often ends 1of 2 ways.
1- you play until you hit a moment where you either wait hours for a cool down or you pay money. See also: NimbleBit games, Simpson's Tapped Out
2- the dev tries to be unobtrusive about it, makes no money. See also: Punchquest, Gasketball

FTP is a model that cheapens expectations to the point that, like over on iOS devices, even 1.99 or 2.99 becomes too expensive, limiting the potential for larger games that are not simply time wasters.

In short, FTP rarely equals what I consider good gaming.

DarkKirby

#24

DarkKirby said:

Free to Play only really works for MMORPGs. But hey, Dragon nest recently put themselves on Steam, for whatever reason, so I guess Free to Play MMO's on consoles could happen, but I don't see why I would ever choose to play it on console if I could on my PC.

C7_

#26

C7_ said:

F2P can be done very well, but most of the time the correct models are the ones that are counter-intuitive to a publisher's ideas, so that's why there are so many horror stories about it. We'll have to see where Nintendo goes with it.

MAXIMUS

#27

MAXIMUS said:

FTP could be a very effective way to introduce new IP without the huge cost investment they would have to make in a full retail game. A huge financial investment in an unknown commodity is a very real road block in game innovation. If treated as an experimental sandbox, it could help Nintendo and its fans realize the next big franchise.

SMW

#28

SMW said:

If theres anyone I'd play a free-to-play game from, its Nintendo. They would know how to do it right and not rip you off.

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