It appears that Nintendo are looking to branch out more when it comes to the delivery methods and options for games on the Wii U and 3DS. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata mentioned that they are considering the free-to-playl and subscription based model for titles. The digital distribution method for games has been working so far with a number of titles in the eShop being available both as physical and digital copies. In addition, the Virtual Console—Nintendo’s eShop category for old school games—sees regular sales for popular titles.
“We will not simply change our existing packed software distribution channel. Rather, we might have many other types of business models in addition to packaged software. “ Iwata stated. “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.” He went on to mention how digitalization of games allow for more flexibility for developers and consumers as it allows for more ways to develop games and more ways to pay for them.
Exploring other avenues for distribution and bringing in more gamers is always sound strategy for a game company. In the case of Nintendo, it’s looks to be on the table as one of the methods to either move more consoles or sale for games to meet or exceed next year’s financial goals. Particularly interesting is where Iwata mentions games that cost less. This is a definite way to move consoles and games as they’re current priced too high as it stands at $60 for most titles and only slither less if that for the digital version.
The idea of F2P on Nintendo will surely split gamers as some view it as a good idea since there will be something in the way of microtransactions while others see it as a pox on gaming as a whole since F2P usually translates into pay to play when the game no longer allows for even advancement and enjoyment for free players. Both sides are definitely right in their views on F2P. People will definitely clamor to play a free game—especially if it’s a quality one—but if it gets to the point where only those who can pay for the best equipment and so on get the furthest, it will turn other players off.
The decision for that wouldn’t be Nintendo’s unless they make a game that is F2P, it would most likely be in the hands of the developers. On the bright side, Nintendo would probably step in to halt anything that compromises the fun element of the game too much. It would all be down to the execution of F2P, establishing a balance that can be enjoyed and supported by all and not just shot down out of the gate.
One pro that could come from this is that it would help Nintendo’s fortunes quite a bit if quality games that had the multiplayer element and the content to keep players hooked was subscription based. For a period this worked for Sony in the PlayStation 2 era with EverQuest Online Adventures. They made quite a bit on selling the game and the network adapter as a bundle and the first month of the game free. There was no way that wouldn’t work. For years prior console gamers had heard about EverQuest on PC and how you could play online with others. Something like that would’ve been great for a console! When it finally arrived, Sony made bank on it. First month free, one-month subscription cards were only $10, and credit cards were accepted as well.
In Nintendo’s case all it would need is a franchise to convert to MMO. Something that people would just throw money at screen regardless of the price. Nintendo sports many franchises so any of them could work. If Dragon Quest X hits the west it will be that game. The Pokemon franchise should’ve been that game some time ago.
Whatever Nintendo plans to do, it’s sure to have a good deal of planning going into it and will likely be something that its consumer base would want.
What do you think of Nintendo considering a F2P-like model? What do you see coming out of this?