Nintendo recently decided that the lucrative smartphone gaming market might actually be worth a look after all and teamed up with DeNA Co. to develop its first batch of titles. At least five are planned so far, leading through to 2017. DeNA has now added that the first few games released under the partnership will be free to play.

Anyone remotely familiar with modern gaming, and not just in the mobile space, knows that free to play is an interchangeable term for free with in-app purchases or micro-transaction riddled grind-fest, if you’re the cynical type. To be fair though, neither Nintendo nor DeNA have detailed exactly how they plan to monetize their smartphone games, so we could just be looking at mostly harmless advertisements or palatable cosmetic in-game items. Although DeNA’s 60 existing apps in the Play Store haven’t set a very promising precedent.

“Games currently in the pipeline are all free to play,” – DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu

Various industry reports have indicated that the free to play segment of the gaming market is by far the most profitable, especially in the Android ecosystem and even more so in Japan. This is sure to have caught Nintendo’s attention, as the company failed to hit its recent profit forecast for the three months ending in September. DeNA, on the other hand, has been fairing a little better despite struggling to break into foreign markets. DeNA saw its April to September net profit jump up 50 percent from a year earlier, reaching ¥16.2 billion ($132 million) for the quarter.

The why:

Freemium models and in-app ads spur growth in mobile app revenue

April 6, 2015

Back in October, the two companies announced that their first mobile app will be called Miitomo, which is more of a social network/messaging app that uses virtual Mii characters than an actual game. Both companies’ share prices fell following the announcement.

Are you looking forward to Nintendo’s free smartphone games?

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • Daggett Beaver

    “Here is virtually no useful information about Nintendo’s upcoming games. Given that we have offered no clue what these games will be or what they’ll be like, are you looking forward to them?”

    • Paul Newman

      Gotta fill that article number requirement

      • Mary Drummond

        Marissa Meyer , Yahoo CEO has gone so far as to Support the practice “Work at home” that I have been doing since last year . In this year till now I have made 58k dollars with my computer , despite the fact that I am a college student . Even newly joined person can make 35h easily and the average increases with time … Look here for details .

    • JosephHindy

      Hmm, before this article, it wasn’t common knowledge that the first game would be FTP. Of course, it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to guess, but not everyone is keen on this stuff yeah?

      Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it’s obvious to everyone. Not everyone follows this kinda stuff that much :) try to exercise a bit o’ patience for those less in-the-know, okay?

  • Rahul Ramesh L

    2 Nexus 5X and one Nexus 6P giveaway here

  • eddnav

    This direction that Nintendo will inevitably take is so sad, smartphones are not for gaming. Nintendo franchises should be ashamed to be thrown into the same pack as most mobile games.

    • Lindle

      Don’t forget that Nintendo targets the casual market a lot and mobile the hands down the best casual platform

    • mourgos1234

      Nowadays, smartphones and tablets are much more powerful than nintendo’s 3DS (new or old) and Sony’s Vita, which are rapidly left behind tech-wise. Something like wikipad’s gamevice peripheral would make smartphones ideal for handheld gaming, and apart from that, its up to the developers to make truly good games. If nintendo doesnt want to share their paid games via playstore they can be selling mini-USB-sticks with the games inside in physical stores, and with encryption to avoid piracy.
      Nintendo’s last handheld 3DS new XL has its upper 3d screen as big as my 3-year old Xperia Z smartphone. If nintendo keeps selling its own system it will be bankrupt within few years as things are.

  • It is going to be Freemium game plagues with IAP. Most probably Mario Run, where you can play are nintendo character and run endessly.