News Article

Nintendo Has Plans to Deliver "New Offers" In Download Stores

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Free-to-play and subscription-based services are on the agenda

Following last week's annual financial results and the President's Presentation, Satoru Iwata faced the music in an investor Q&A to address important issues for Nintendo's prospective return to substantial profits. This was published promptly in Japanese, but we now have the official English translation to consider, and as always it includes some clarifications and revelations on what could be coming from Nintendo in the next year.

One topic that came up regularly both in Iwata's presentation and this Q & A was that of download games, with Nintendo being clear in its ambitions to maximise sales and profits from its eShop stores. In last year's meeting Satoru Iwata made the point that the Wii U eShop, in particular, would support models such as free-to-play which we've seen, sort of, with titles such as Tank! Tank! Tank! and Zen Pinball 2. When addressing the topic again, however, the Nintendo President not only re-emphasized that the relevant infrastructure for these kind of offerings is in place, but also that Nintendo itself has plans to produce downloads that will follow free-to-play and subscription based models. His focus is not only on expanding download sales, but using them as a method of advocating ideas such as NFC and the strengths of Wii U.

We think that digital distribution of packaged software is only the first step in expanding our digital business. We will not simply change our existing packaged software distribution channel. Rather, we might have many other types of business models in addition to packaged software. For example, we might see more games that are similar to free-to-play games, games that cost much less or games that require a monthly subscription fee. Digitalization allows for greater flexibility, whereby having more ways to make payments, both software developers and consumers have more options. And Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have flexible systems to handle such trends, so it is now a question of putting these ideas into action. I can definitely say that Nintendo will make new offers that go well beyond simply replacing packaged software with digital software.

...Also, I talked about JR East’s public transport e-money card "Suica" today, and I feel that the impediments to making small payments on Wii U will be reduced dramatically if one can make payments in this fashion. If this becomes a reality, it will be easier for consumers to pay for products and services such as, "Wii Street U powered by Google," add-on content for games or pay-per-view options in VOD (Video on Demand) services, and I feel that there will be more ways for consumers to take advantage of these options.

I think that those who already own a Wii U system are starting to understand the advantages of having a game console that is connected to a TV as well as the Internet and, together with a device with touchscreen controls that you can hold in your hands, integrate to form one system. As a platform holder, Nintendo anticipates that as the system becomes increasingly convenient for consumers, the number of business opportunities taking advantage of these features will grow. We do not do business under the concept that "digital business" equals simply replacing packaged software with digital software, or, put another way, changing our distribution channels.

This is all a far-cry from the Nintendo of relatively recent times that seemed resistant to keeping up with online trends. In terms of how this affects games, meanwhile, Iwata has made it clear that Nintendo itself will be exploring alternative payment models and structures, rather than simply giving third-parties the option and staying away.

What do you think of this? Do you think there are some Nintendo games or services that would work well with free-to-play or subscription models, or would you rather just see more conventional prices and offerings? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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User Comments (59)



SirQuincealot said:

im not rally a fan of having to pay a subscription to play a games, maybe a mmo, but im not sure we'll see amny of those on the wii u



DualWielding said:

I wonder if they could get sponsors to offer their games for free...... SMB3 brought to you free thanks to the support of Coca Cola, or something like that



hiptanaka said:

As long as they don't go the EA route of microtransaction hysteria... That would destroy Nintendo for me.



disco3000 said:

Aren't we doing this already? In games like Candy Crush Saga, and Arcade Empires? Just not on a home console...yet. I think Nintendo want to be the first, before Microsoft and Sony, of bringing to the greater gaming public the opportunity of playing socially active and user-friendly interactions the whole community will talk about and fall in live with!



steamhare said:

Free Mario Kart 8, with weekly buy-in tournaments?
Or better yet, Smash?

Nintendo could divide tournaments based on rank, offer special rewards to winners, and have occasional super tournaments.

And they could use the regular payments to support online services for as long as people play.



Jese_1 said:

Free to play and that kind of thing are fine, because it's great for people who might be on the fence about a game, but I'd like for there to also be the option to pay the standard price and get the whole game in one go.



slidecage said:

sounds like a PSN for the nintendo systems... sony had PSN for years.. its about time nintendo does the same thing..



Gregor said:

@steamhare HECK. NO. I buy a game I want to play the damn game when I want to play it. If Nintendo does go this route they better keep it quarantined with those nasty 3 rd party games. Don't let that crap touch the 1st party gems.



slidecage said:

i can see nintendo doing something like putting 5 or 6 games online for fix 19.99 fee a month.. then again it could be a hard sell come think about it...cause it would have to be around the same price as psn due to other places like gamefly.... say they swap games ever month 4 games for could easy rent those 4 games off gamefly for half as much



steamhare said:

Huh? How did you get that from what I said?
I'm suggesting that the whole of super smash and mario kart be free. The usual play styles like versus, classic, and adventure mode would be fully available whenever you'd like to play it, along with general online play against other users.

At the same time, nintendo would have tournaments every week people could pay to participate in, with special rewards for the winner depending on playing level and amount of people in the tournament.

You wouldn't be blocked out from the game.



Gregor said:

@steamhare that is absolute BULLCRAP. Nintendo doesn't pull that. They provide you with a game you buy it END OF STORY. Besides how would they make ANY profit from those pay to play tournaments? They would just alienate everyone who plays the game! And the game itself would suck! Just. Just! Ju-- head explodes



EvilLucario said:

Most free-to-play games are really just there to suck money out of the consumer. However, some games, like Team Fortress 2 and RuneScape, are examples of free-to-play working relatively well, both for the company and for the gamer.

It'll be interesting to see Nintendo's take on free-to-play and subscription-based games.



ricklongo said:

As long as they keep churning out full retail games, this does not bother me. I won't be playing FTP or subscription games, but if they further help the company's bottom, I see no harm.



marck13 said:

Does all sound fine. I draw the line at subscription-to-play, I simply wouldn´t play games like that.



TwilightV said:

If they have prepaid cards for subscriptions, then i'm okay with it. If they decide to go credit card only though, then i'm not interested.



gsnap said:

This probably won't affect most Nintendo games. Just allows other pubs to do those things if they see fit.



Harrison_Peter said:

Sony's PS+ is awesome. You pay a relatively small fee (with much better value than things like Xbox Live) and you get to download top games for free or massively discounted. It's absolutely brilliant, allows gamers to play games they might not have tried, and it still makes Sony money. It's also entirely optional! It's a fantastic service and I'd love to see Nintendo take some inspiration from it.



ollietaro said:

It all sounds good but when I think of subscription-based, I think of MMORPGs and I don't know if that is possible on the 3DS. Online functionality for 3DS games needs to be souped-up in every way. No online multiplayer in Monster Hunter 3 U and in Fire Emblem: Awakening is a bit behind the times. Granted, FE:A already has great online DLC and Spotpass content. Both of these games need online multiplayer. We're still in the local co-op phase of the NDS. I want to take my FE:A team and beat someone in another part of the world with it, or even pre-determined teams.



Trikeboy said:

PS+ is awesome, i have so many great games for a low yearly fee. If Nintendo do something like that I will be very happy.



LordGeovanni said:

I am against PTP games. I only ever payed for Runescape and that lasted only a year... Horrible concept in my opinion. If you ever PTP, don't expect to be able to FTP on that game anymore after you stop the payments.

I may be against PTP, but as long as it doesn't affect the games that I play, Nintendo can do what they want. I will feel sorry for the people who have the changes, but it isn't my problem unless Nintendo makes it my problem.



steamhare said:

My overall assumption is that nintendo would continue the series with the same quality they usually put into their flagship games, and thus would not suck. The tournaments would be online, and reach everyone who owns the game and has their wii u online. That would reach an absurd amount of people, and if just 10,000 of these people participated each week in 7 tournament regions for a year, paying $5 each, nintendo would receive $18,200,000. Prizes would probably be exclusive nintendo merchandise, like gold wii remotes, or a 3DS with a custom design, or a real cup trophy, or nintendo character figures. Stuff that would be desirable to a fan, but wouldn't really cause nintendo to go broke.
And you'll have to explain why people who don't participate in the tournament would be alienated. Again, I'm assuming these releases would be just as full featured as previous entries in the series.



SuperCharlie78 said:

"I think that those who already own a Wii U system are starting to understand the advantages of having a game console that is connected to a TV as well as the Internet"
Oh boy...



GiftedGimp said:

Subscription based I hope will be MMO's, love the idea of something Like World of Warcraft but the ease of item/inventry managment, text messaging and map display on the gamepad.
MMO's have been on 360, Ps3, but control schemes have always made MMO's tricky on these consoles compared to playing on PC.

I know sega have been working on a new Phantasy Star MMO and Square have been working on a new Final Fantasy MMO for the past couple of years... be good if one/both appeared on WiiU, with connectivity to PC/other platform players.



Gregor said:

@steamhare go away Wheatley.
I'm just going to let the other Nintendo Life users rip your keyboard out. I'm not dealing with you and your terribly ideas.



steamhare said:

You're never going to explain your opinion, are you? And you're the only one who has commented, too, so I don't think the other Nintendo Life users care one way or the other, currently.



Dpullam said:

I'm very interested in Nintendo's ideas for the future of their consoles so this article intrigues me. I'm certainly looking forward to the future of Nintendo!



_MorbidFaith said:

Subscription Based games you say?

Is that most likely DQX is coming here to the states?

Hopefully. Hope it goes F2P though



AstronautZero said:

@Harrison_Peter As far as I am concerned XBL and PS+ are two different services. One is paying for connectivity, the other is paying for benefits and deals. I'm not saying that PS+ isn't a good deal, it is a great one, and as an Xbox owner I wish we had a similar product. I'm just saying that it's just mathematically wrong to say that $50 is "nowhere near" $60.



DreamOn said:

They better first put in a real network account system before all this. Terrible that games are still locked to hardware in this age.



SCAR said:

Sounds good. A Nintendo subscription service would be cool, but there's not much to offer right now, Wii U being a new console and all.
I definitely don't want it to turn out how PS+ did though. I didn't really like any of the games they let me borrow, and it was that much worse when my subscription expired. I could have bought over 1/2 of the games PS+ let me borrow and had been able to keep them instead of 'renting' them.
Besides, auto download and cloud saves were part of the PS+ subscription, too. Nintendo will be letting people do that for free(not the cloud part).
I DO NOT want Nintendo to copy PS+.



Zombie_Barioth said:

Thats actually a pretty good idea as long as they keep the fees low and have some free ones now and then. As long as they keep the paid stuff completely optional and benefiticial for both sides I'm ok with it. Actually, I'm rather curious about what Nintendo will come up with for those kinds of price models.



hms said:

Microtransactions & subscriptions , no thanks.
I'll take psn subscription anyday over ninnys if they pull that up,they dont even have a working account system yet ???

If it was Iwata talking about Zen Pinball2 , some1 tell him it's NOT f2p , it.s timelimited trial.



EverythingAmiibo said:

@ErnisDy I know right! My PC isn't good enough for it, I'm on all lowest graphics options so I really want a Wii U version! What's your username? I'm PvtOttobot



EverythingAmiibo said:

@C-Olimar You played it? It's really fun and the most tactically demanding, realistic and stressful (In a good way! Makes you feel like your actions actually matter) 3rd/1st person shooter I've played! Unfortunately I already said... my PC



darkgamer001 said:

Am I the only PS3 owner that dislikes PS+? I'm not saying it's not a good deal, cause it can be, but I want to own my games, not pay a subscription service to loan them



burninmylight said:


I think it sounds like an awesome idea, if tweaked a little and pulled off correctly.

Instead of offering the entire game for free, sell it in stores and in the eShop for $20 USD (and it's equivalence in other countries). If it were free, why would stores carry it? And if it's not in stores, a ton of casual fans may never know it exists on Wii U. And at $20, no one is going to complain at that price. Nintendo still makes a little cash off the top to offset the losses from development and hosting servers, and with weekly tournaments (I'd include different pricing tiers based on the prizes) that you mentioned, it makes a buttload of money over time.

If you only care about offline racing with friends or solo, then hey, you get a super cheap full version of Mario Kart. Eventually, you'll come around and participate in a tournament or two.



C-Olimar said:

@PvtOttobot Ha, it seems that way but I haven't
It's just one of those games that stood out for me at that first E3 with the Wii U! I remember that they were confused how they would sell it on Wii U, but now of course they can just offer F2P!
As soon as I saw this I though of GRO!



GamerJunkie said:

They should have had FFXIV on the Wii U. That would have brought so many players to the system alone. No matter if the game was great or not, square/final fantasy fans are as loyal as nintendo ones.



GamerJunkie said:

They should also release a trading card online free to play game where you can buy virtual card packs.

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