Here's Why Nintendo's CEO Dislikes the Term "Free-to-Play"
Satoru Iwata feels there's "insincerity" in the phrase.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is not a fan of the term "free-to-play," feeling it's a disingenuous way to describe games that often don't turn out to be free for long.
Following a Time interview last week in which Iwata repeatedly used the phrase "free-to-start," the publication has published more of its conversation with the executive, including an explanation for why he uses that expression.
"I do not like to use the term 'free-to-play,'" Iwata said. "I have come to realize that there is a degree of insincerity to consumers with this terminology, since so-called 'free-to-play' should be referred to more accurately as 'free-to-start.'"
"The thing that concerns me most is that, in the digital age, if we fail to make efforts to maintain the value of our content, there is the high possibility for the value to be greatly reduced as the history of the music industry has shown," he added. "On the other hand, I have no intention to deny the free-to-start model. In fact, depending on how we approach this model, we may be able to overcome these problems."
The company has already begun to explore the free-to-play/start model in the past, most notably with games like Pokemon Shuffle (a mobile-style, energy-based puzzle game) and Rusty's Real Deal Baseball on 3DS. Rusty's is a free download but can be expanded with new mini-games that are purchased with real-world money. Unlike other games, you're able to haggle with a character to lower the cost of those additional downloads.
Nintendo recently announced its intention to begin developing games for smart devices in conjunction with Japanese company DeNA. These games won't necessarily all be free-to-start, as Iwata told Time, "I do not believe it is an either-or situation between free-to-start and packaged game retail business models. There are games which are more suited for the free-to-start model. We can flexibly choose between both revenue systems depending on the software content."
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