Nintendo is getting into the mobile games space with its partner, DeNA, who will help with the “service side of things.” Responding to an investor question about how games will be sold, CEO Satoru Iwata explained that, first of all, Nintendo isn’t fond of calling it “free to play.” Imagine that!
[W]e do not want to use the free-to-play terminology that implies that you can play games free-of-charge,” Iwata said. “Instead, we use the term ‘free-to-start,’ as this term more aptly describes that at the beginning you can start to play for free.”
That’s not to say premium games (pay once and you’re done) aren’t an option here. They are. “[D]ifferent payment systems suit different kinds of software,” according to Iwata. But given Nintendo’s obsession with its games being perceived as high quality, there’s concern about race-to-the-bottom pricing. “[O]nce the value of a software title decreases, it can never be increased again.”
He wouldn’t commit to one pricing strategy over the other, noting that with free to play, “Companies may be able to make a very profitable business in Japan by asking a small group of consumers to pay a large amount of money (for their smart device applications), but we do not think that the same approach would be embraced by people around the world.”
As for concerns about a minority of players making “excessive” purchases, Nintendo’s goal is to create “applications that appeal to a wide variety of people so that the games can receive payments widely but shallowly from each consumer. In other words, even if a consumer makes a relatively small payment, because of the large consumer base, the game can generate big revenue.”
Iwata closed by saying there won’t be many mobile games released “from this year to the next,” as they’ll all need special attention if they’re to flourish as services “that evolve on a daily basis.” Also, hahaha, he said this: “Please understand that Nintendo will make its proposals by taking into consideration what Nintendo really should do with this new challenge.”