Satoru Iwata, the leader of Nintendo, says that his company is finally exploring the possibility of using the free-to-play model for upcoming video games although core franchises like Mario and Legend of Zelda will probably not be affected any time soon.
The executive tells Nikkei in a NeoGAF translated interview that, “We can now do distribution by digital means as well as micro-transactions, and the ways to obtain money through supporting entertainment have increased. 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.”
Iwata admits that Nintendo wants to still take the money of those longtime fans who are interested in new content featuring their favorite characters, and that also means offering complete experiences for a normal price.
But for new titles and new ideas, free-to-play gives development teams a chance to experiment without the big monetary pressure of a full price launch.
Iwata adds, “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.”
Nintendo also has plans to continue delivering downloadable content packs for core titles, including New Super Mario Bros. 2.
A couple of years ago, the company stated that it had no interest in the free-to-play business model.
The company has the same attitude towards DLC and made the switch when it became clear that extra revenue could be derived from it.
Since then, games without subscriptions or initial costs have become an important genre on all platforms.
In late 2012, Nintendo has released the new Wii U home consoles, which includes a strong Wiiverse network, and as the community grows, it could support free-to-play video games.