Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently had the chance to speak to Japanese news publication The Nikkei about a number of subjects including Animal Crossing: New Leaf, game development, and the free-to-play business model. Iwata says that while the company is reluctant to join the free to play wagon, they might do something like cheap-to-play. Here’s what he had to say.
“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.”