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Nintendo Finally Accepts the Free-to-Play Model, But Don’t Expect Mario or Pokemon to be Involved

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Posted on January 7, 2013 AT 07:15am

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has admitted that the company is finally looking into the free-to-play business model, but made it perfectly clear that established franchises won’t be involved.

In a recent interview with Japanese website Nikkei (via NeoGAF) he explained that the video game industry is changing and it’s time to accept this new model. “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,” he explained. “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.”

“Therefore, I have no intention of denying the free-to-play model,” he continued. “If we were to talk about if Nintendo were to do that, however, I am not so much inclined to do that with Nintendo’s established well-known products, where people trust their interesting-ness. 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.”

Iwata explained that established franchises wouldn’t be part of Nintendo’s free-to-play games–so don’t expect Mario to be jumping on the bandwagon any time soon–instead it would be used to give new IPs a chance to shine and grow.

“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’,” he said. “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,” he concluded.

Would you be happy to see Nintendo go down this path? Let us know in the comments below.

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at EGMNOW.com. He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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