Lately, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has been a lot in the news, be it to address the company’s surprising annual loss or to outline some of its next steps, including the much-commented possibility of expanding its business to smart devices. Everything had a refreshing honest approach:
The way people use their time, their lifestyles, who they are have changed. If we stay in one place, we will become outdated.
It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results.
Apparently, the moment of truth is here (or at least, part of it), as Nintendo is starting to chart the free-to-play waters with Steel Diver: Sub Wars and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. Both of them are exclusive for the 3DS eShop.
- Steel Diver: Sub Wars is a submarine-based first-person shooter.
Its free version offers a couple of submarines, some singleplayers and the multiplayer mode. Paying $10 unlocks the rest of the game. In other words, the Steel Diver: Sub Wars’ free-to-play approach looks a lot like a demo.
- Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, in turn, is a collection of baseball-related minigames, and is scheduled for April (it was originally released in August for the Japanese market).
The game comes with some free minigames, but additional ones must be unlocked by paying $4 for each of them. However, here the free-to-play approach comes with a tweak: the players can bribe the shop owner (Rusty) to get a real discount on each minigame.
(…) Players can purchase additional mini-games in a unique way: by haggling to lower the real-world price for each downloadable game. Additional games start at $4 apiece, but giving Rusty items or listening to his problems might improve his mood and motivate him to offer steep discounts.
In the year in which Sony and Microsoft have a lot of guaranteed press coverage because of their new consoles, Nintendo is doing a remarkable effort to stay relevant. Fortunately for us, so far every announcement seems to be part of a bigger strategy.
We’ll see how this attempt at free-to-play works for Nintendo. The good news is that, putting the monetization experiment aside, both games look fun.