Nintendo President Iwata Discusses Free-to-Play, Subscription Fees And More

By Ishaan . April 30, 2013 . 7:40am

In a financial results Q&A, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata touched upon the topic of expanding the company’s digital business in the years to come. This will involve more than just pushing digital download sales of Nintendo’s games, Iwata says. Rather, Nintendo will explore more kinds of business models when it comes to how they sell their games.


“We will not simply change our existing packaged software distribution channel,” Iwata shared. “Rather, we might have many other types of business models in addition to packaged software. For example, we might see more games that are similar to free-to-play games, games that cost much less or games that require a monthly subscription fee.”


He continued: “Digitalization allows for greater flexibility, whereby having more ways to make payments, both software developers and consumers have more options. And Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have flexible systems to handle such trends, so it is now a question of putting these ideas into action. I can definitely say that Nintendo will make new offers that go well beyond simply replacing packaged software with digital software.”


Nintendo cites the Wii U’s Wii Street U powered by Google app as one example of trying out new business models. This app is currently available for free, but Nintendo have already announced that they will begin to charge for it at some point in the future alongside adding new features. Those who downloaded the app in its free period will be able to continue to use it, while those who buy it later will be required to pay.


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  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    I wonder if Nintendo ever make an MMO, will it be Free to play or Pay to play. Subscription fees…… I don’t know about that.

    • Solomon_Kano

      I’d imagine Nintendo themselves would opt for F2P. I can’t imagine Nintendo ever designing a subscription-based game. It just would feel so… not Nintendo.

      • malek86

        Well, before this generation, I also wasn’t imagining Nintendo releasing paid DLC for their games. But they adapted quickly.

        I think it would depend on the type of game. I doubt they’d avoid a subscription-based model if they thought it would work better.

        • Solomon_Kano

          As in before the Wii or before the Wii U?

          I saw them breaking into the whole DLC thing as inevitable, but I think they’ve done it in as Nintendo a way as I can imagine with NSMBU’s upcoming Luigi content. Rather than the nickle and diming most imagine when they hear the term, Nintendo’s approached it more like dessert to a full-course meal than sides to an entree, if my analogy makes sense lol.

          With Iwata’s business sense, I’m sure subscriptions aren’t something they’ll actively avoid if it looks viable, but it just doesn’t strike me as being Nintendo-like or the kind of thing they can take and put some Nintendo-ish spin on to make their own. Subscription fees are pretty cut and dry.

          • Yeah, Nintendo’s been really cool when it comes to DLC, really. You see the Fire Emblem stuff? One of the bigger pieces of DLC is a side-story involving the latter-half characters of the game, and I find that to be really cool!

      • ShawnOtakuSomething

        true true

  • Zenthos

    Subscription fees? No, no, and no. You end up paying MORE than a cost of a average game if things go that route.

    • DCBlackbird

      But these games tend to have much more content than the average game

  • SetzerGabbiani

    The final holdout on f-t-p is succumbing. Oh well…

  • Lightthrower

    Dragon Quest X? Yes please!

  • Nightshade

    They already planning to experiment a different business model with Flipnote Studio World. I guess this just confirms that they are gonna experiment more models in different cases. Whatever works I guess. I don’t mind subscription fee for a game/service is the value is worth it. I don’t mind F2P either. Its, really a case by case thing.

  • $29082171

    ”that require a monthly subscription fee.”
    Dragon Quest X?

  • Jirin

    It’s fine if they go to monthly subscription fees for games, I just won’t give them any more of my money. I’m the sort of gamer I like to play a game for a while, put it down for a long time, then come back to it years later. Why on Earth would I put money into any other model than ‘Pay once, play forever’ when I already own 30 years of brilliant games that I can play forever for no further payment?

    I’ve still got an NES, and I can still play Castlevania III for the same $0 marginal dollars I could when I was ten. I won’t buy games with expiration dates.

    You know 50 years later when my generation is retired, we’re all going to be hunched over our 20th century 2d hand-interface video games while our grandchildren think we’re lame for not playing mind-interface VR games. And we’ll tell them, back in my day, we didn’t have to pay subscription fees. We paid once and then we owned the game forever. That’s the way it was and WE LIKED IT!

  • Tails the Foxhound

    As long as they come out with new franchises to make F2P and P2P, sure go for it. I simply don’t have the budget to play either of those and I don’t wanna be locked out of my favorites. So not liking this “service” kick the industry is on, my games are an “end product”.

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