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Nintendo will use free-to-play to introduce new IP

Free-to-play offerings should be "balanced and reasonable", says CEO

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has said that Nintendo will use the free-to-play model to introduce new IP that need to earn the "trust" of consumers.


While Nintendo's two leading platforms, Wii U and 3DS, afford the firm flexibility with software monetization, Iwata says Nintendo will only pursue free-to-play with unestablished franchises.

"We are not planning to offer, for example, Mario or Pokémon games in a free-to-play format," confirmed Iwata in a recent E3 analysis briefing.

"With games like Mario and Pokémon, we already have a sufficient degree of trust with our consumers who are willing to pay a certain sum of money to purchase our products as packaged software. On the other hand, what are we to do when we want to offer a completely new product whose value consumers are yet to understand? Consumers are not sure if it is worth outlaying a certain sum of money for such a product.

"In such circumstances, our current platforms (Nintendo 3DS and Wii U), which give us various monetization options that would not have been possible on past Nintendo platforms, enable us to make propositions in a free-to-play format," he said.

Free-to-play games are often criticised for enforcing overly-restrictive measures in efforts to force players to make continuous micro transactions that, in some cases, can end up being more expensive than buying a full-priced game. Iwata went on to stress the importance of a free-to-play model that doesn't extort the player.

"On the other hand, free-to-play games, if unbalanced, could result in some consumers paying extremely large amounts of money, and we can certainly not expect to build a good relationship with our consumers in this fashion.," said Iwata. "In order to have a favorable long-term relationship, we would like to offer free-to-play games that are balanced and reasonable."

Elsewhere in the briefing, Iwata blamed the lack of Wii U games this year on the necessity for software to be more polished and offer more value than ever before.