News Article

Nintendo "Would Consider" Making Free-To-Play Animal Crossing Entry

Posted by Damien McFerran

Tom Nook is rubbing his hands already

Nintendo has just announced that it is dipping a toe into the freemium market with Steel Diver, and now Animal Crossing: New Leaf lead designer Katsuya Eguchi has admitted that a free-to-play version of the popular life simulation isn't totally out of the question.

Speaking to VentureBeat, Eguchi said:

I think the main thing that we need to think about before even considering doing something like that is to determine what we’re going to make available from the beginning. I think that’s key in deciding whether we do something like that. If I find a business model that works, however — that works for Nintendo and the end-user — then I can’t say that [free-to-play] is something we wouldn’t consider.

Eguchi also noted that there's a large degree of crossover when it comes to Animal Crossing and free-to-play mobile and online games:

When you look at our main audience in Japan, they are definitely that audience that has smartphones. [They are] women in their late teens and early 20s. They are certainly playing free-to-play games on their smartphone.

Steel Diver is one thing, but turning Animal Crossing into a free-to-play title is something that Nintendo would have to consider very carefully. What are your thoughts? Would including in-app purchases in a game like Animal Crossing destroy what makes it great in the first place? Or perhaps you feel that there's merit in the idea? Post a comment to tell us what you think.


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User Comments (64)



tchaten said:

That idea scares me - you'd be turning a warm and bubbly vacation into something that ruins that experience.

I could see having the island cost money and stuff like that, but anything as an add on cost for your main town is quite scary.



Burning_Spear said:

It wasn't too long ago that someone at Nintendo said this wouldn't be done for Animal Crossing. Someone help me with the link.

Anyway, bad idea, I think. The game is a smash success as it is. This particular version has so much content that extra is not needed. And I think the constant stop-and-prompts to upgrade would interrupt an otherwise tranquil experience.

EDIT: Here's the link, though I should note that Iwata only addressed DLC and that this was before he started apologizing for everything. He's probably desperate enough to try anything now. ...



3DSAllDay said:

@Burning_Spear I completely agree with that and if they did make a free to play animal crossing then all the furniture would cost about a buck each in real money from tom nook xD



ouroborous said:

well i would love at the very least a demo of the game since ive never played one and am not sure that its for me. theres alot of hype and also naysayers so its a tough call for me at this point. and since im going to download this title if i get it, ill be stuck with it, which is bad if it turns out to be boring, pointless, or awful.



3DSfan134 said:

Personally,a free-to-play Animal Crossing would be cool for the 3DS and the Wii U but Steel Driver-not that good.



CrazyOtto said:

Free to play Animal Crossing? They'll probably have digital "toll booths" everywhere so no thanks. I think Pilotwings Resort would be a perfect free to play game though.



Yorumi said:

This is getting into very dangerous territory. Free to play can work but it's gets oh so dangerous and I don't think I'd get an AC game that's free. To quote someone else who summed it up really well: "If Super Mario Bros. was free to play it would cost more to save the fake princess than to marry a real one."



Burning_Spear said:

$35 for Animal Crossing New Leaf is one of the best video game values I've ever experienced, and it has only been a week and a half. As I see it, free-to-play is better for unproven games that need to attract and hook newcomers.



Yasume said:

How about stop milking the Animal Crossing franchise and try to make a unique entry for a change, Nintendo. The original Animal Crossing for the GameCube is a masterpiece, but we've got 4 Animal Crossing games now that are almost all EXACTLY the same! Now you are trying to ripoff the fans even more with this free-to-play crap?



BrightBeing said:

I want Whole games at a fair price. Any game that is sold piecemeal will not get my money. Ever.



AVahne said:

Free-to-Play Animal Crossing could actually work pretty well if done correctly. Free-to-play doesn't automatically mean lower quality or a large amount of missing content. It can be done and be attractive to gamers if the developers take into consideration what players want for the base game and what they would be willing to pay for and for what price.



Epicnessofme99 said:

Also @Yasume the new Animal Crossing is actually the most unique entry so far, they added in becoming mayor and being able to enact ordinances and create new additions to your town.



TobieOBrown said:

@Yasume Have you played any of the Animal Crossing games since the GameCube? The series has evolved more than you may think — and not just in superfluous ways like the expanded catalog and encyclopedia. The "log roll" camera, wifi and local play, various locales and the new mayoral duties are all very substantial changes in formula.



Yorumi said:

@Koto lets put it this way. What are the chances that you could get everything in new leaf for $40 if it was a free to play model? Won't happen because a free to play model assumes a small number of players will pay more than the selling price of a normal game to balance out the people who never buy or pay less.



Marakuto said:

@Yasume I wouldn't say that it's being milked, I mean, it's a series that has been improved with new aspects that make it unique for people to find out and enjoy.

If it actually did become a F2P game, I would imagine that most things that you'd see in the series become limited to some-what, but I hope this wouldn't happen.



DarkLloyd said:

i certainly hope the wiiu animal crossing game does not become the free to play model, otherwise i may not be that eager to get it



Emaan said:

No, just no.

I want a full Animal Crossing experience, getting what I payed for from the start. The series is known for its extensive amount of content and things to do, and if you want that experience you can pay for it from the start. I don't want to have to make micro-transactions to fully enjoy my game.

Why does Nintendo think this is what their consumers want?



grimbldoo said:

It's the only way they'd get me to play...or if the game ran on it's own less-than-24-hours clock.



AVahne said:

Well then, what Nintendo would have to do is make a brand new Animal Crossing with a new structure as to make free-to-play feasible for them and attractive to gamers. Using an established game for comparison to free-to-play may be the only thing we have now, but we can't rule out the possibility of Nintendo doing something new with free-to-play and Animal Crossing.



RupeeClock said:

I completed an Animal Crossing New Leaf survey on Club Nintendo earlier today, and there was indeed a question asking if I had ever played a Free To Play game like Sims Social or Temple Run, hmm...



unrandomsam said:

So there you have it even in Japan Animal Crossing is a girls game.

Freemium is an awful model for anything. No point in playing something that is designed to be pay to win. (Or waste your time massively). That is the whole business model.

What Nintendo shouldn't be doing is just copying what other companies are doing.

If they need more money they should release more of the back catalog on vc.



Mk_II said:

Bad idea! Next thing you know people aren't willing to pay at all for Nintendo games



Lobster said:

@RupeeClock Strange, I completed a similar survey yesterday and they only seemed to want to know if I had heard there was a new Animal Crossing out at all.



RupeeClock said:

Have you actually registered the game or not?
It may depend on how long you have played the game, if you say you've played something for zero hours they don't let you participate in the survey for example.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I really don't think this would work well at all with the way Animal Crossing is supposed to be played. Just because people play free to play games on their phone doesn't mean they want those kind of games on a handheld, a lot of people only play those games because they're free in the first place.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf already flew of the shelves in Japan, just how much better are they expecting the franchise to be able to do?



Kaabiitorori said:

I cannot imagine Animal Crossing transformed into a ‘freemium’ franchise, at all.

I am not saying that Nintendo should not attempt this model at all, but if they ever will expand themselves into the ‘free-to-play’ market with their key franchises after their first experiment (Steel Diver), this is something VERY tricky to pull into success. A ‘freemium’ game must be crafted well enough and it must not compromise the gameplay and the player in order to win the game by the old standards.

In all honesty, whenever anyone mentions the ‘free-to-play’ model, I cannot help but always point towards Team Fortress 2: amazing and extremely fun gameplay paired up with a sustainable ‘freemium’ model and an extremely strong community. Now THAT is what I would call a good example to follow!



SuperSah said:

Big NO from me.

I LOVE the AC series and a one off payment is what it needs. I'd hate to be playing, see a cool item, then a real life price tag appears which disrupts our enjoyment. Pass. Pass PASS.



2Sang said:

I think if done right, it could be perfect for this game series, but I fear it wouldn't be done right.
Maybe make it free for the house and for each of the tools, you have to pay $2 for the axe, rod, net, shovel etc.



Ralizah said:

God forbid it should ever come to pass!

I will never support any Nintendo game that follows the premium model. Anyone who appreciates traditional game pricing models should do the same.



MadAdam81 said:

If they want free-to-play, they should buy Mechwarrior from MS and have Mechwarrior Tactics on Wii U.



Yasume said:

@TobieOBrown Bought Wild World on day 1, expecting a new experience, but it was extremely disappointing for me that I had to do the exact same stuff all over again. I bought the Wii version in 2010 and it played exactly like WW with almost no new additions. It was ridiculous how much they hyped the city part and how it would differ from the other games, while it only added like 5 stores to the game.

I'm not going to bother with the 3DS version. I've seen plenty of footage and the mayoral duties only aren't going to cut it for me.



Mazor775 said:

They should make it like Simpsons Tapped Out. I am playing that and ac right now. They are both pretty tits. Also its 1210 right now and I cant download the #newluigigame. Pretty gay.



McHaggis said:

I don't understand why people are assuming you'd have to pay out a lot of money if the game went freemium. Lots of freemium games can be played and completed, with every item unlocked, without paying a penny. The only people who pay are the impatient/uncoordinated who have to have the best stuff from the start or need a little boost to get them further.

Granted, there's the bad side of freemium, like the iOS version of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, where it would cost £100+ to get all the tracks and characters that are included with the £15-£20 3DS version. But that's just because Square Enix are greedy mofos who have lost their way.

If Nintendo want to consider the latter kind of freemium (where you have to pay to unlock certain features of the game), they should at least make the game fully-featured for around the RRP of a boxed game from the start.



Oceanous said:

No for me...

If they start doing this then it might be the end of buying anything from Nintendo.
I just spent $35 to buy Animal Crossing knowing that everything I'm going to get will be free and now all of the sudden you want to nickel and dime me on little things?

The entire Animal Crossing is based on getting stuff. You gather and sell to make money so you can use the in game currency to buy that particular item that you've been eyeing on. If they start to sell every little thing...a wall clock for $1, a bench for $1, a special flower for another $1 then they're going to take away the very essence of what make Animal Crossing series so popular in the first place.

If I can pay real money to buy everything then why the heck do I need to gather and sell and trade stuff?

I really don't think Nintendo is that stupid...



Mazor775 said:

^Youre whack. I spent seventy bells on two copies. One for me and one from my gf. Do you know how many times she has played it...? Twice. Yup. Free to play on my phone would be awesome.



paniccoffee said:

DLCs are fine, but making it totally freemium? No thanks. I don't want this franchise to be a game that nudges you for real money for an item every week.or so, such as "games" like We Rule or The Smurfs. Don't dilute this franchise by doing that, it would certainly kill it.



onex said:

You people are ridiculous. I'm almost certain that what he's saying is that they're considering a F2P VERSION of AC:NL to entice those curious gamers who are reluctant to buy the game in the first place. Which means, if you have the game already, this isn't MEANT for you, so why is everyone all crying foul like NIntendo just took your lunch money?

Of all VG companies, you should know by now what Nintendo is about: options. They're simply giving people the option to go the F2P route, should they choose. Meanwhile, the full game is ALSO right there to purchase for the decided consumer.



JayceJa said:

there are PLENTY of free to play games that use the model just fine without ripping off customers, it's just that there's so much crappy freemium games that it gives the model itself a bad reputation

this is nintendo we are talking about, they barely even use DLC, they wont make a freemium game without it being a way to deliver quality content to the customer in the quantities they want in a fair way



Dizzard said:

If it means buying pieces of furniture or shirts for something like 1 euro a pop then you can count me absolutely not interested.

I won't say it's impossible for a free to play game to impress me, just that it would have to do a LOT to impress me.

There's nothing worse than playing a game and feeling like you have a shadow following you around trying to sell you something, for me it really sucks the fun out of a game.



puddinggirl said:

I hope not. One of the biggest charm of AC is you don't need to worry about getting nickel and dimed by the freemium system and just enjoy/create contents freely.

And if they do eventually, I hope they are treading this VERY carefully. It's so easy to slip into making generic and unfinished games with the freemium system.



EaZy_T said:

I've never played an AC game, so this would be one way for N to get me to try it out.
I'm not sure how the game works; I'd guess you'd get to play a basic version of the game and then if you like it, you could buy extra areas and special items.

Just be thankful that they aren't looking to the subscription model for N games (I really don't want to rent a game for a month/year at a time).



mikeyman64 said:

@grimbldoo Funny, that's one of the primary aspects of the game that makes it so original and fun.

I would honestly hate a F2P AC. Reason being, you would have to buy everything with $$$. Want that couch? Easy, buy this DLC pack for $2.99. Want a fishing rod? Simple! Snag the Tools'n'Stuff pack for $5.99!

It's much simpler to pay the, very reasonable, $34.99 and get everything.



MrGuinea said:

I wouldn't want to shell out a couple bucks if I wanted a new rare piece of furniture. And I sure hope they don't go the route of having items like golden shovels, etc, be available to purchase for $1 each or instead you have to do this near impossible task to get it. But I feel like Nintendo actually cares a lot for consumers and wouldn't do that.

But I still don't like the idea of it.



mikeyman64 said:

I agree that the weeds are a hassle. In the GameCube version there was a ghost you could talk with late, late at night. I think it was around 2 or 3am, and he would ask you to do something. If you helped him he would grant you a wish, one of which was picking all of your weeds. No idea if he's come back in the newer games.



paperskyx said:

Can they please NOT add paid content to Animal Crossing?! A free-to-play version is fine and could increase sales dramatically if done correctly.. but putting paid DLCs into Animal Crossing is completely out of line and annoying.

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