Nintendo may consider free-to-play for new franchises

By Steve Watts, Jan 07, 2013 11:15am PST

Nintendo has gained a somewhat deserved reputation for being reluctant to change, but Nintendo Network provides the company an opportunity to disprove its critics. Both the 3DS and Wii U have started rolling out full digital releases of retail games, and some titles even include support for downloadable content. Next on Nintendo's shopping list: free-to-play.

An interview with the Japanese news source Nikkei revealed Nintendo president Satoru Iwata's thoughts on the new 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," Iwata said according to a NeoGAF translation (via CVG). 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 games, or the free-to-play model."

But before you start letting your imagination run away with fears of paying for each individual Pokemon in your quest to catch-em-all, note that Iwata stressed he's interested in trying this with new franchises, not established ones.

"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."

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