How A Free Mobile Suit Gundam Game Is Earning Namco A Bunch Of Money

By Ishaan . September 23, 2012 . 11:30am

Shin Unozawa, chairman of the CESA—organizers of the Tokyo Game Show and representatives of the games industry at large in Japan—gave a speech at the show this year, where he discussed the side of the Japanese industry that is experiencing rapid growth, but is harder to track and understand: namely, downloadable games and content, and free-to-play software.


Among the games he highlighted as examples of the benefits of digital content, Unozawa pointed to impressive DLC sales of Nintendo’s Fire Emblem: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS. You can find details of that here.


On the free-to-play side, however, Unozawa looked to Namco Bandai—of which he is the executive vice-president—and their recently released Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation, a free-to-play, 6-on-6 Gundam combat game for the PlayStation 3, released in June 2012.


Here’s how Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation works: the game is completely free to download and play, but limits the amount of time that you can play each day. You can play up to three games for free every two hours. Each game lasts eight minutes. Once you’ve used up your three free plays, you need to wait two hours before you can play again. All in all, if you’re persistent and don’t mind waiting, you can play up to 12 games a day, completely free of cost.


However, Unozawa revealed, a surprising 75% of Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation users are actually paying to play the game and avail its various services.


Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation lets you pay for a few different things. For starters, if you don’t feel like waiting for your play-time to recharge, you can pay to unlock more play-time right away. Additionally, you can also pay a one-time fee to unlock all of the Mobile Suits in the game, as well as one-time fees to unlock the entire arsenal of weapons and customization parts.


Unozawa admitted that even Namco Bandai were surprised to see how many people were willing to pay for the game. He shared that Battle Operation had brought in revenues of 700 million yen (about $9 million) by the end of August, which more than covers the game’s costs of development, also mentioning that it took Namco Bandai three years to create the game.


In 2012, towards the end of development, Namco had one of the members of their social games section come up with the final service plan for the game. In addition to its development costs, Namco also spent 120 – 150 million yen ($1.5 – $1.9 million) on promotional costs for Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation.

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  • Klaus00

    Whoa didnt expect it to make that much in merely 2 months o.o

  • Kawashima

    I wonder if Namco Bandai would bring this overseas? this would be very fun to play.

    • Luna Kazemaru

       They honestly wouldn’t get much profit from it.

      • Kawashima

        I guess thats true. 

        •  yeah there aren’t that much gundam fans overseas, so doubt it would do as good as it did in Japan

          • Godmars

             Maybe not enough who own a PS3 or would buy one to play this, but certainly more than you might think. Just going by the amount of US based model ordering sites still around.

          •  hmmm true, just hope they would bring it over here

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      Considering outside of Japan, Gundam fans is not as big as in Japan and how outside of Japan, gamer is not as dedicated as Japanese gamers, it will just be a waste of money for Bamco there.

      • TiredOfMyOldUsername

        If this was a paid game i would agree with you, but by being free it change a lot of things.

        • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

          Well, in a way that can be correct but remember that being an MMO, they will also need to have a dedicated server that can cause a lot there.

          Not to mention, there are no guarantee that the game will success in bringing people to play games that limited the player amounts of time playable each days.

  • Godmars

    Nice to know its working out, but have to wonder would the same free/pay model work if they brought it to the West.

    Also, what’s up with the links for games? Only one of the three I checked have accurate pricing.

  • omeganeko

    Hey people love there gundam , this kinda reminds me of how free mmos make money with additional content like costumes,items etc. I’m glad to hear they are doing well.

  • Visa Vang

    Okay, you’re making money now. Now give us 3 more extra energies!!!

  • idofgrahf

    It’ll work in japan where gundam is well established, probably won’t work so well in the west. Gundam, while popular is not THAT popular. Maybe western developers needs to do it for say Star Wars or something.

  • The problem with this game is that it was not finished. They shipped a laggy broken game that controls really clunky. If they want people to want to pay to play they need to make something worth pay to play. 

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      The control is clunky there because they wanted to make the MS to moves as closely as the real one on the anime there.

      My only problem is the human movement but for MS, i think that is okay.

      • ArmoredBoar

        Uh, no. The control is clunky because the game runs at a 15FPS cap and can drop lower to the point where the camera can’t even be adjusted right.
        That should not be tolerable.

        Peace Walker ran on a 20FPS cap on the PSP because it was testing the little piece of hardware’s limits and it turned out to be a wonderful -and- playable experience for everything was adapted with that in mind.

        This game can go down to 5FPS on a whim, and it’s a PS3 game made in 2012 of all things. F2P does not excuse such a thing, especially when the models aren’t high-poly nor are the textures over-encumbering.

      • Xekyo

        I agree with you.  I just recently got into the game and i’m really enjoying it. I don’t know if it’s my connection but the game runs perfectly fine for me.  I don’t expect fast paced gameplay.  It’s not a game about rushing in thinking you’re rambo but a game where you’re operating a extremely heavy, humanoid, mobile suit and the best chance for victory is through well coordinated team work.  Can’t wait ’til i find my first Gundam schematics. XD

    • Godmars

       Pretty sure you just described every MMO and online multiplayer game ever. If you have access to it, give it a few months. 

      • It came out on June 28, so it’s almost 3 months already. If Bandai Namco had any plans on improving the game, I hope the unexpected success motivates them even further.

    • LynxAmali

      -They shipped a laggy broken game that controls really clunky.

      Operation Troy and Crossfire were worse.

      Those were terrible.

      • I guess one saving grace Battle Operation has is that it’s an F2P game, thus some lack of polish is excusable. I mean, “was”; now that they’ve made this much money, I expect them to improve it somewhat – iron out the rough edges, if nothing else.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    Great news for Bamco there.^_^ And considering i also spend some bucks to buy the energy there, i am happy that they are doing well lol.

    Now Bamco, i would love if you add more sidequest MS there.^_^ Especially Zeon sides.


    i hope next one would include Gundam 00 :3

  • Barrylocke89

    Imagine how this would go if they did a system like this for a more popular multiplayer online game in the west, like Call of Duty. On one hand, I want to say it wouldn’t do well at all.

    But then I think about games like League of Legends, which has a few similarities to this system (free to play, but paying makes it easier to use your favorite Champions more often, plus skin recolorings)

    Makes you wonder.

    • Blizzard did just say they’re considering going free-to-play for StarCraft II multiplayer…

      • Barrylocke89

        Oh did they really? I missed that bit of news. See, that’s what I mean, I’m not sure how something like that would be implemented, without radically changing the gameplay. Unless they plan on having the game servers be supported by its other products.

        Now that I think about it, I wonder how Blizzard’s been doing internally with games like League of Legends taking the “most played pc game” slot away.

        These sort of trends are probably whats making them consider a system like this in the first place. It just seems odd to want to try and do it for the already established StarCraft II, instead of trying to build a fresh game around it.

  • Nicolas Vasquez

    i doubt they would release this here in the west, at least no with that model, also anyone who wanted to play the game would just make a japanese psn account to download it.

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