Shin Unozawa, who is an executive vice president at publisher Namco Bandai, has revealed that Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation, a free-to-play title that the company launched on the PlayStation 3, has managed to perform better than expected and might show how the future will look for the Japanese game industry.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation
is exclusive to the PS3 and Unozawa says that, despite the fact that the entire game can be accessed for free, 75 percent of those who played it chose to pay in order to get in-game options and items.
The Namco Bandai title allows players who do not want to pay to only engage in a small number of matches during one 24-hour period and those who want more need to pay a small amount of money via microtransactions.
The game structure has allowed Namco Bandai to get more than 700 million Yen, about $8.9 million (€6.8 million) since it was launched earlier in 2012.
As Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation progresses, gamers can get access to more weapons, customization options and mobile suits, and there’s also the option to pay for a master key which allows all of them to be unlocked from the start.
Namco Bandai has not offered any information on whether it plans to localize and launch Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation for Western audiences.
Shin Unozawa used the better than expected performance of the free-to-play
game to suggest a potential future for the Japanese gaming industry, which has recently been seen as declining.
The Western market has embraced the free-to-play model on the PC but only a limited number of console games use it, although that could change on the new generation from Sony and Microsoft.
Players in North America and in Europe also tend to react negatively to games which allow the player to pay real-world money in order to gain a competitive advantage.