Nintendo open to free-to-play for new franchises

However, global president Satoru Iwata told Japanese business publication Nikkei that the company won’t be experimenting in the free-to-play market with established franchises like Mario and Pokemon.

“We [as an industry] can now do distribution by digital means as well as micro-transactions, and the ways to obtain money through supporting entertainment have increased,” Iwata said, according to a NeoGAF translation of the interview.

“Therefore, I have no intention of denying charged games, or the free-to-play model. If we were to talk about if Nintendo were to do that, however, I do not [have] much inclination to do that with Nintendo’s established well-known products.

“For example, for people who are used to Mario games costing 4,800 or 5,800 yen, we will not have a proverbial door to full enjoyment that can only be unlocked via payment.

“For new titles with no established base, if, in the process of development, we found it to suit the free-to-play model, we might follow that route, or we might do something like ‘Cheap-to-play’.”

Iwata added: “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. I am not talking about changing how we sell Mario or Pokemon.”

Iwata said last year that Nintendo had designed Wii U from a technical standpoint “to allow developers to freely take advantage of things like free to play”, although no publicly announced free-to-play games are in development for the console.

In separate news, earlier today Iwata announced Pokemon X and Pokemon Y for 3DS during a Nintendo Direct broadcast. The games will launch simultaneously in Japan, Europe, Australia and the US in October 2013.

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