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.