Nintendo's played its pricing pretty straight with the Wii U eShop, outside of supporting occasional diversions in standard models from Indie developers, and also dabbling in free-to-start with Fatal Frame / Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water. On the 3DS eShop, however, the company's been more experimental - a combination of a larger audience and that portable form-factor have given the big N and its partners opportunities to truly experiment with free-to-play. The question, though, is how well it's working.
Nintendo's efforts in free-to-play are varied, though we're particularly interesting in those with optional microtransactions that speed up progress. That's not to downplay the relevance of games like Steel Diver: Sub Wars with its optional packages, nor Rusty's Real Deal Baseball or even the additional StreetPass games, as they've also been interesting moves from the big N.
Yet those are slightly more cautious endeavours, essentially giving a taster and offering further chunks of content for additional one-off payments. Titles such as Pokémon Shuffle, Pokémon Rumble World and the recent Nintendo Badge Arcade as somewhat different, however, and play into similar tactics to some of the greatest money-spinners to be found on mobile. In all of those cases it's possible, in theory, to make reasonable progress without spending a penny or cent, yet they're balanced in such a way as to tempt you to speed things up with real cash. Nintendo Badge Arcade is arguably the most aggressive of all, despite its host being a pink bunny, as it attempts to pressure you with limited-time badges - which will probably loop back around - and a fairly mean number of free plays through the practice mode.
Yet that's the game of free-to-play business, and intriguingly Nintendo recently confirmed Pokémon Rumble World to be the fourth most successful game in a list of download sales, lagging only behind DLC packs for Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. StreetPass Mii Plaza was number five, and based on the criteria it looks like plenty of players have been buying hot-air balloon trips in Rumble World.
With Nintendo and DeNA moving into mobile with free-to-play releases from March 2016 - starting with Miitomo - and with Pokémon Picross coming soon on 3DS, we want to know whether these portable experiments have longevity with the Nintendo Life audience. Have you downloaded these three microtransaction-laden titles that we've prioritised here, are you still playing them and - most importantly - are you spending money on them? Let us know in the polls below and, as always, sound off on what you think of these games in the comments.