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