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


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.


Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.