Iwata: Free-to-start mobile games are an option for us

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has said that Nintendo’s smartphone games may well be free-to-play.

The industry is still collectively digesting the news that one of the big three platform holders has conceded to popular opinion and decided to bring its IP to non-owned smartphone devices. Fans, however, have expressed discomfort at how cherished Nintendo IP might be handled in a low-cost smartphone software world.

I understand that, unlike the package model for dedicated game systems, the free-to-start type of business model is more widely adopted for games on smart devices, and the free-to-start model will naturally be an option for us to consider,” Iwata told Time.

On the other hand, even in the world of smart device apps, the business model continues to change. Accordingly, for each title, we will discuss with DeNA and decide the most appropriate payment method. Both can be options, and if a new Nintendo-like invention comes of it, then all the better.

On the other hand, Nintendo does not intend to choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo’s brand image or our IP, which parents feel comfortable letting their children play with. Also, it’s even more important for us to consider how we can get as many people around the world as possible to play Nintendo smart device apps, rather than to consider which payment system will earn the most money.”

Nintendo isn’t a free-to-play virgin, of course. It has dabbled with the model on 3DS with the likes of Steeldiver. It’s most recent F2P release, however, was savaged by critics and has understandably created a certain level of unease among Nintendo’s fanbase.

Anything truly enjoyable about the game is ruined by the microtransactions,” said Destructoid in its 3.5/10 review of Pokemon Shuffle.

More positive for Nintendo fans is the promise from iwata that Nintendo will personally head up development of its smartphone games, although that isn’t to say that DeNA won’t handle a certain proportion.

Development of smart device games will be mainly done by Nintendo, but it is significant that we are forming a joint development structure with DeNA,” he added. Nintendo, through experience in the dedicated game system business, is good at making traditional game products. But for smart devices, in addition to the ‘product’ aspect of a game, the aspect of an ever-evolving ‘service’ is very important. DeNA has extensive know-how in developing the ‘service’ side of things, and will be primarily responsible for the service-oriented operations.”

Iwata added that head of development Shigeru Miyamoto will remain on Wii U duties, for the time being at least.

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