Toshihiro Nagoshi is known for working on Sega’s Yakuza series, but at present he’s also taking on the challenge of developing Sega’s very first free-to-play game for the Nintendo 3DS in Initial D: Perfect Shift Online. Famitsu caught up with the Sega Chief Creative Officer to talk about the upcoming game and more.
Famitsu starts the interview by asking about the idea and process behind releasing a F2P title for Nintendo 3DS.
“Sega have had success with titles like Samurai & Dragons, and it’s become an age where we’re seeing all kinds of different F2P games,” says Nagoshi. “Even for home console games, it has become normal to simply download them, so to an extent, having F2P games is a given. I believe the strategy [of making an F2P game] simply came to be, after going with the flow.”
While the Nintendo 3DS has a large audience, it is primarily made of a lower age group compared to other platforms. Famitsu asks Nagoshi about his thoughts on their chances of success.
“In order for a F2P game to succeed, well basically, the device must be spread out in terms of popularity—that’s the condition you must meet,” explains Nagoshi. “In Japan, the most widely used handheld device is definitely the smartphone; but following that, it is definitely the Nintendo 3DS.”
“I understand that the market is different, but on the other hand, I believe that everyone is aware of that, and that’s how the Nintendo 3DS has kept going on without having to release F2P titles,” he continues. “So, I’d like to try it out, and see the results for myself. As a game creator and producer, I’m very interested in seeing what happens.”
“Of course I believe that we might see some unexpected results,” reiterates Nagoshi. “It might not even go too well, and there are many possibilities. The Nintendo 3DS has a wide audience from elementary school to high school students, but that’s not all. I believe there’s a business chance in the older market. However, nothing is certain for now, but to a degree, giving that a shot is a Sega-like selection. I’m sure if fans take it that way, they will understand.”
Next, Famitsu asks how the first F2P title ended up being Initial D: Perfect Shift Online.
“We had various plans, but the reason we went with a racing game is because we wanted something that can be played lightheartedly with replay value,” answers Nagoshi. “Initial D isn’t a pure racing game, but it has the right characteristics and uniqueness, along with an earnest essence to it.”
“We thought about going with an original game and not using an existing IP, but racing games aren’t as popular as before. Those who aren’t used to them will pass on them, so we figured that a name like Initial D would bring more power to [the game].”
Famitsu asks if the entire game will be free to download and play.
“Yes. When there’s something special that you’d want, you can purchase points to get it, it’ll work like that,” replies Nagoshi. “You’ll also be able to accumulate those points in the game by simply playing it.”
Similar to the DLC we’ve seen for games such as Shin Megami Tensei IV, real money purchases will mainly be used for those who don’t have too much time on their hands to play the game. As far as online play goes, Nagoshi says that parts of it can be played offline, but for the most part it is made to be played online.
With Initial D: Perfect Shift being the first F2P title for Nintendo 3DS, this brings a new challenge for Nagoshi and the rest of his crew. Famitsu asks him to share his thoughts on said challenge.
“We don’t intend to stop with this title, and after looking over its results, we’ll think about what to do next,” says Nagoshi. “However, unlike games for smartphones, I believe there’s a perfect shape of ways to do things, somewhere out there, for the Nintendo 3DS. I believe that finding it will be our challenge, and in many ways, Initial D will be our first step.”
Finally, Famitsu asks if they already have more plans to release other F2P titles for Nintendo 3DS.
“At the moment, I can say that we’ve been thinking about plenty of things. We have suggestions amongst ourselves like ‘wouldn’t this be a perfect game for a F2P title on Nintendo 3DS’ and many more. So when the time comes to talk about it… we’ll just leave it at that for now,” Nagoshi says with a laugh.
Initial D: Perfect Shift Online is currently in beta and is slated for release this winter in Japan for Nintendo 3DS.