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Nintendo expands free-to-play efforts

Steel Diver sequel gets free multiplayer as Rusty's Real Deal Baseball lets players "haggle" over cost of DLC

Nintendo is continuing to explore alternative business models, as president Satoru Iwata unveiled its latest experiments with free-to-play functions in the company's latest Nintendo Direct presentation.

Iwata detailed two downloadable 3DS games during the presentation, both of which attempt to monetize players after offering them a core part of the game for free as a trial or demo. First up was Steel Diver: Sub Wars, which was launched on the 3DS eShop immediately following the Nintendo Direct presentation. Described as a "contemplative" first-person shooter that can be enjoyed by those not skilled at fast-paced gameplay, Sub Wars is available as a free trial version with two playable submarines, full access to multiplayer mode, and the introductory portion of the single-player mode. Players who then buy the full game will receive access to a larger array of submarines and the rest of the single-player campaign.

In April, Nintendo will also release Rusty's Real Deal Baseball on the 3DS eShop. A collection of minigames inspired by the great American pastime, Real Deal Baseball will give players a free demo, along with the option of purchasing additional minigame modes for $4 each. However, Nintendo is introducing a new wrinkle to the business model by allowing players to "haggle" with in-game mascot Rusty over the price of these downloadable add-ons. Players can bring the asking price down either by giving Rusty in-game items, or by "listening to his problems [to] improve his mood."

Nintendo has tried out a handful of free-to-play approaches in the past, most notably with Wii Sports Club and Wii Fit U. In Wii Sports Club, players can download the minigames as 24-hour timed trials, after which they can play all the sports for $2 a day or purchase unlimited access to portions of the game on a $10 per sport basis. As for Wii Fit U, Nintendo offered a month-long trial of the downloadable version of the game for free until the end of January, with full access unlocked for those who purchased a $20 Fit Meter as well.

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Latest comments (12)

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises2 years ago
If anyone can figure out a better way of doing Free to Play, it's Nintendo. For decades they have been everyone's first step on the path to gaming enlightenment, they take people who don't even know what a game is and turn them into gamers.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
I'll agree to that. I think a lot of people are going to be following how this pans out.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 2 years ago
However, Nintendo is introducing a new wrinkle to the business model by allowing players to "haggle" with in-game mascot Rusty over the price of these downloadable add-ons. Players can bring the asking price down either by giving Rusty in-game items, or by "listening to his problems [to] improve his mood."
Wow and yikes. You get to play barkeep and psychoanalyst to a homely digital doggie for a discount on DLC? Somehow, I like this crazy idea, especially if Nintendo can make it amusing like they tend to do when they add humor to a game. Watch it get stolen quickly by some others, I bet.
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Show all comments (12)
Steel Diver still isn't what I really consider a "FTP" model though: its more an unlimited demo (with multiplayer), that then allows you to purchase the full game while playing.

This should be the basis for *all* future Nintendo games really: it effectively means everything has a playable demo.

When they start allowing players to purchase in-game currency, items (etc) - then its a much more significant change.
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Andrew Watson Tools Programmer 2 years ago
I'll give them a few hours before people have figured out the most efficient route to haggle the game down to the cheapest price.
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Richard stewart2 years ago
i have heard that the cheapest price is free as in you don't pay anything
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe2 years ago
i have heard that the cheapest price is free as in you don't pay anything
@Richard - Do you have a link to support this?
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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief2 years ago
It's amazing how if Nintendo introduce a "haggle with a character to reduce the price of IAP", that's cool and funny.

If EA did it, the Internet would be all "EA IS THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD. EA, I HATE U!!"
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Richard stewart2 years ago
the user Laer_HeiSeiRyuu states so in this article on siliconera http://www.siliconera.com/2014/02/14/nintendos-first-free-play-game-coming-north-america/

sadly its nothing official .

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard stewart on 18th February 2014 12:57pm

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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe2 years ago
If EA did it, the Internet would be all "EA IS THE WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD. EA, I HATE U!!"
You're right, that's just not fair, because they're only the worst company in America, two years running and on-track to retain the crown this year.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Jed Ashforth on 18th February 2014 4:46pm

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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London2 years ago
"Sub Wars is available as a free trial version with two playable submarines, full access to multiplayer mode, and the introductory portion of the single-player mode. Players who then buy the full game will receive access to a larger array of submarines and the rest of the single-player campaign."
Back in the day we called this shareware.
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Mohammed Alsadoon Staff Writer, Gaming Bus2 years ago
That's what I was thinking: This is straight up shareware from the early to mid 90s.

Not that it's a bad thing per se, just that it's not really what F2P is.
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